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102507 

LBSMAA 



THK LIBRARY OF THK AZIIAR UN1VFR8ITY, CAIRO 

The portion with the domed roof is a shetkli' s to7nb. On the 
xvall to the right a modern ivorld map i\' to be see/i. 



THE EXPANSION 
OF ISLAM 

AN ARAB RELIGION IN 
THE NON-ARAB WORLD 


W. WILSON GASH 

D.S.O., O.B.E. 

Formerly Assistant Principal Chaplain 
to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force 
AUTHOR OF 

The Moslem World in Revolution 


WITH PREFACE BY 

PROFESSOR D. S. MARGOLIOUTH 


LONDON 

EDINBURGH HOUSE PRESS 
2 EATON GATE, S.W.l 
1928 



Printed in Scotland 
by Turnbull ^ Spears^ Edinburgh 



TO 

THE MEMORY OF 

MY MOTHER 




PREFACE 

By Professor D. S. Margoliouth 

The scope of this work has been explained by Mr Cash in 
his opening chapter. 

When the founder of Islam announced that it was his 
mission to make his system dominant over all religion,” 
he doubtless meant political dominance over the adherents 
of other systems, so long as such systems were allowed to 
exist. Twice in the subsequent history that programme 
came near realization : once when the hordes of the early 
Caliphs submerged vast portions of Asia, Africa and 
South-western Europe, and again after the close of the 
Middle Ages when the Ottomans, having established 
themselves at the Byzantine capital, penetrated far into 
Europe from the south-east. The condition of the world 
at the close of the nineteenth century presented a striking 
contrast to that programme. Extensive territories mainly 
peopled by Moslems had by then come under the control 
of European and nominally Christian powers ; and in the 
first quarter of the twentieth century — mainly, though 
not entirely, owing to the fatuous participation of Turkey 
in the Great War and the subsequent revolution in the 
fragment of the Ottoman Empire which survived — the area 
controlled by independent Moslem governments was so 
reduced as to be politically almost inconsiderable. 

Moslem countries had indeed frequently experienced 
a change of rulers ; the instability of their dynasties was 
notorious. Such changes had meant little more than the 
u bstitution of new despots and tax-gatherers for old ; 
at times they involved besides an alteration in the ritual 


vU 



viu THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

or the doctrine. The introduction of European control 
was far more momentous. It meant the substitution of 
order for chaos, the removal of religious disabilities, and 
the abolition of barbarous institutions ; it familiarized 
the peoples with European science and its marvellous 
inventions ; it was accompanied by the spread of educa- 
tion and journalism ; it rendered the products of European 
speculation and literary genius accessible. Islamic pride, 
rightly emphasized by Mr Cash as characteristic of the 
system, had sustained a series of shocks. 

The effects on Islamic thought and the movements 
which the new conditions have originated have been 
studied by Mr Cash in Islamic environment. He has 
been at pains to isolate the permanent elements of the 
system from the accretions due to the countries which 
have come under its sway. The modem movements 
would be unintelligible without the historical background 
which he has supplied to the extent required by his purpose. 
His work will be perused with profit by those who have 
given much time to the study of Islamic history and 
institutions, and may be confidently recommended to 
those English readers of newspapers who, having little 
time for such study, are yet conscious of some obligation 
towards the many millions of Moslems whom Great 
Britain controls or protects. 


D. S. M. 



EDITORIAL NOTE 

This book is going to press during the absence of the 
author in the Near East. He is, therefore, unable to 
read proof. 

It should be remembered that in the Moslem world 
events at times move rapidly, and that history continues 
to be made in the period that must necessarily elapse 
between the date when the manuscript leaves the author’s 
hands and the publication of the book. 

EDWARD SHILLITO 


IX 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF DATES 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 





P ® 

◄ lO 


(M CO 
(N W 

to (O 




o 

IN Otj 

Si 
•in «! 

“ 51 
I 



io%ti 

? *8 ^ 


N.B . — ^This first period of Moslem expansion east and west coincided with Christian missionary 
enterprise as far as China to the east and England to the west. 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF DATES 




Ilfl 


1 


corre- 


1 



- ^■S'S'S 

1 

•S 

'O 

§ ^ . 
IS 

1 

^ • 
© M 

1 -me 

1 

S 3 

s 

a 


d 

■§ 

f 



i 

•I 


■2 - 5'‘S 

i I Si 


■2 ^ 

I 

1 al © I i 

^ o B 

;§'|.ag|^5 

lll^ 


ft ^ 


"S <* 
a ® g 

O es 2 
© a a 


00 


I ^ 

< sl 

H t».g> 

nS 


xi 


886 Alfred in England. 

1013 Canute, King of England. 

1031-1075 Rise of Seljuk Turks in Turkestan. 

1066 The Norman Conquest. 





CONTENTS 

CHAP. PADS 

Preface by Professor D. S. Margoliouth . . vii 

Editorial Note ...... ix 

Comparative Table of Dates . . . . x 

I. Islam in the Modern World ... 1 

II. The Man Mohammed . . . . .11 

III. The Origins and Sources of Mohammed’s 

Faith ........ 88 

IV. Empire Building in Islam .... 52 

V. Cultural Developments in Islam ... 77 

VI. Mysticism in Islam ..... 97 

VII. Islam and the Ottoman Empire . . .122 

VIII. The Impact of Westernism upon Ottoman 

Islam ........ 146 

IX. Islam in the Pagan World .... 165 

X. The Revival of Arab Islam .... 189 

XI. Islam — Missionary Religion . . . 218 



THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


CHAP. PAO* 

XII. Renaissance in the Moslem World . . 288 

XIII. Islam and Christianity 268 

Appendix 298 

Bibliography 297 

Index ........ 801 


Map At end of hook 



THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


CHAPTER I 

ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD 

That the Moslem world is, in our day, passing through 
most momentous changes none can doubt. In some lands, 
such as Turkey, these changes may be described as revolu- 
tion, in others transition, and yet in others renaissance. 
These movements are like a mighty earthquake which 
first causes the ground to heave and move. Then loud 
rumbling noises are heard, as though some pent-up force 
is seeking to burst its way through the earth. Great 
fissures appear, and buildings rock and crash to the 
ground. So in the world of Islam the old orthodox 
ground of the faith has heaved and moved under the 
impelling force of western science. Great gaps are seen 
in the rock of Islam which once appeared to be impene- 
trable and immovable, and the ancient edifices of Moham- 
medanism such as the Caliphate have come crashing down. 
These changes are political, setting up democracy and 
nationalism in the place of the old sultanic autocratic rule. 
They are economic and intellectual, bringing the Moslem 
world into the main stream of world life. They are 
religious and social, leading to many reforms in Islamic 
law and custom. Barriers are breaking down, the old 
slogans of holy wars and pan-Islamic unity are dying away, 
and with a new demand for education and literature there 
is steadily growing a new mentality which is western in 
outlook and thought. 

The difficulty to an English reader of studying events in 



2 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Cairo or Constantinople, Baghdad or Bombay, is that they 
are generally unrelated to the background of Moslem 
history ; and the setting of a Mohammedan movement is 
often lost for lack of an elementary knowledge of Islam, 
out of which these movements spring. 

Thus, last year, Londoners were surprised on opening 
their morning papers to see in big headlines, “Shingled 
girls of Turkey — Cigarettes, Foxtrots and the Charleston — 
The vanishing harems — ^A Stamboul bazaar in the Thames.” 
Underneath these striking announcements was written : 

Twenty-five pretty shingled young women, for the most 
part members of the intelligentsia of modern Turkey, are 
seeing London to-day for the first time. They arrived 
yesterday in the Turkish steamer Kara Deniz, which at 
the instance of the Turkish Ministry of Commerce has been 
converted into a “ floating exhibition ” for a summer cruise 
in the principal ports of Europe.^ 

If before this ship arrived the man in the street had 
been asked what his impressions of Turkey were, he would 
probably have described it as a place where pashas kept 
vast harems in which women were shut up all their lives 
and forbidden to go out, and where black eunuchs guarded 
the entrance to Turkish homes against all comers. What 
then must such a man think when he reads that a band 
of up-to-date, well-educated girls, living as free lives as 
any English girls, have come to England from Turkey on 
a trade expedition ! 

The western world was profoundly interested in the 
expulsion of the Caliph from Constantinople, and the 
setting up of a republic in the once famous centre of the 
despotic rule of the red Sultan. The Islamic world rever- 
berated to the earthquake that broke in pieces the pan- 
Islamic league and placed nationality above religion. 
Turkey, the bruised and broken, shattered by a world war, 
defies the anathemas of religious muftis and sheikhs in the 

1 Daily Express, 6th July 1926. • 



ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD 8 

East, and denounces the claims of Europe to interference 
in her destiny. Strange happenings these I We rub our 
eyes and ask, “ Is this Islam ? ” The Islamic law has 
been replaced by a western code, polygamy is forbidden, 
and many other social reforms have been carried out. 
The religious Moslem endowments have been confiscated 
and a new educational system has been set up on modem 
lines. The dervishes in their quaint dress have been 
driven from their monasteries, and, wonder of wonders, 
these sons of mysticism are thrown upon a world in revo- 
lution and forbidden henceforth to wear their distinctive 
costume. 

We pick up our newspaper again and read : 

Everyone knows of course that one of the changes that 
Mustapha Kemal has introduced into Turkey is the sub- 
stitution of the kalpak for the fez. Not content with this 
startling innovation, he has actually so gone counter to 
the instructions of the Koran as to have a statue made of 
himself. 

The dervish dress and the fez, the veil and the harem 
are all gone, and the elected members of the Grand National 
Assembly appear after their election at Angora in top hats 
and tail-coats 1 We may smile at these eccentricities, but 
they are symptoms of something. The world surely seems 
to have gone mad when a man can be condemned to death 
for no greater offence than that he was seen wearing a fez, 
yet this is what happened. What does it all mean ? 

Mr J. A. Spender puzzled over this as he walked up and 
down the deck of a ship on which he was travelling. He 
says : 

When the ship on which I came to Constantinople 
reached Brindisi she was awaited at the quayside by two 
lorries filled with small crates packed with men’s hats. 
There were so many of them that when we had taken a 
certain number on board our captain waved his hands 
impatiently and said he would take no more. They had 



4 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


been coming by every ship and every train for months, and 
the cry is always for more. For Kemal Pasha has decreed 
that no Turk from henceforth shall wear a fez.^ 

The shades of Carlyle pass before us. What would 
Sartor Besartua not have given us had it been written 
to-day ? 

I turn over another sheaf of newspaper cuttings and 
pick out one which in bold tjrpe states : 

IN TURKEY TO-DAY 

TIME OF PROFOUND CHANGE 
KEMAL’S POWER 
THE WORSHIP OF A TYRANT 

The article begins, “ Turkey will never be the same again,” 
and goes on to deseribe Mustapha Kemal Pasha as the one 
vital force in all these revolutionary changes. He is a 
“ mighty soldier,” loved and admired “ as the great 
liberator of his land.” The papers have been filled with 
Angora news, the Lausanne Conference, the new parlia- 
ment, the attitude of Turkey to foreign powers and foreign 
trade, Mosul and the crisis in Iraq, Soviet intrigues in 
Turkey, the persecutions of Christian minorities, the sack 
of Smyrna, the fears of a Turkish-Italian war, the hanging 
of opposition members of the Grand National Assembly, 
Angora and the League of Nations, plots for a counter- 
revolution, and mixed with it all tales of Moslem feasts 
celebrated with dances, cinemas, and theatres, Turkish 
women demanding votes and claiming complete emanci- 
pation, and the Kurds rising in rebellion against the new 
“infidel,” Kemal Pasha. Times have certainly changed 
since the word Ottoman was synonymous with the defence 
of Islam, and Turkey was regarded as the stronghold of 
the faith. 

We leave Turkey on that most uncomfortable of railway 
journeys through Anatolia and Cilicia to Syria and Pales- 
^ Quoted in Public Opinion, 15th January 1926. 



ISLAM IN THE MODEKN WORLD 


5 


tine. Here we enter another world. Syria is dominated 
by France and Palestine by Britain, but we again meet 
the same symptoms of change and revolution. S 3 nria is 
an armed camp. The Druses are in revolt. Damascus is 
shelled and parts of it are in ruins, while in Palestine an 
Arab-Jewish controversy breaks upon an otherwise peace- 
ful land. Yet here too the same modem tendencies 
are at work. The West is pouring in with its aeroplanes, 
motors, and all other elements of the so-called civilized 
world. 

We pass on to Egypt, and the note of nationalism meets 
us as we land. “ Egypt for the Egyptians ” is the slogan, 
and the country seethes with agitation. These lands are 
awake, stirred from an age-long slumber, roused to a frenzy 
against the West and its domination. With all the anti- 
western agitation, we find, paradoxical as it may sound, 
that the nationalists are as keen as others upon western- 
ism. “ Copy the enemy so that you may be strong enough 
to overthrow him ” is the policy, and yet in the midst of 
it all stands majestic and proud the old Azhar University, 
with its rigid adherence to the Koran and loyalty to the 
Prophet. It is like trying to mix water and oil. Western 
impacts and Koranic traditions do not coalesce, and 
change is seen on every hand. 

Events that arrest our attention are a rebellion in 
Egypt (1919) with complete independence as its objective ; « 
a strike in the Azhar University for a more modem type' 
of education ; the trial of Sheikh Ali Abdel-Razik for the 
publication of a book on Islam which the orthodox claim 
to be heretical ; a feminist movement for compulsory 
education without distinction of sex, and for the prohibi- 
tion of polygamy ; and the promulgation of a religious 
decree by the Grand Mufti against the wearing of Euro- 
pean hats, which are declared to be “ against the Moslem 
religion.” These are a few of the many Egyptian items 
of news that have within the past few years been disciissed 
in the London press. 



0 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


We cross over into Arabia, and again our curiosity is 
aroused by news that we read. The war in the Hedjaz, 
the triumph of the Wahhabis, and the holding of the first 
pan-Islamic Congress of Mecca are arresting indeed. The 
isolated religious reserve of Islam is being slowly drawn 
into the vortex of western life. Newspapers from Cairo 
penetrate into the most remote regions. European states- 
men in their Near and Middle East policies have to 
make room for the fact of Ibn Saoud ^ and his fanatical 
followers. The Islamic world of India finds it important 
to send delegates to confer with this Arab chief upon the 
future of Islam, and new links are being forged daily with 
the outside world. 

Iraq has been a vexed problem in England, and the 
press has given us the fullest possible information on the 
indirect rule of Britain through King Feisul. Few perhaps 
realize the significance to this Moslem stronghold of the 
new contacts thus being established with the West. A 
new day has dawned in Mesopotamia, and western influence 
is making itself felt everywhere. 

This movement towards the West that we notice in so 
many lands is perhaps more significant in Persia than 
in other Moslem countries. The Shah is deposed and 
an ex-soldier has mounted the throne. Bolshevism is 
making a great bid for supremacy in this old home of the 
i Shiahs. Changes are taking place which a generation ago 
would have been scouted as utterly impossible. There 
: are signs of a break-away from Islam as a system. The 
} women in Persia, as in Turkey and Egypt, are beginning 
I to make themselves felt in the politics of the land. Some 
i of them regard Moslem law, as applied to women, as a 
. badge of slavery. At the same time the orthodox are 
I heading a movement with “ Back to the Koran ” as its 
slogan. 

Meanwhile Indian Islam is striving to imite the scattered 
fragments of a dismembered Moslem body. Events in 

^ See Chapter XI for a full account of this Wahhabi king. 



ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD 7 

Turkey have roused India, and the Moslem press proclaims 
vociferously, “ Islamic federation and brotherhood.’’ 
Alongside of this the Englishman places the terrible 
accounts of Hindu-Moslem riots and the break-up of 
national unity through racial religious strife. The spread 
of western thought has intensified Moslem propaganda, 
and India dreams to-day of a new pan- Islamic league of 
nations. Moslem women leaders are thinking in terms of 
self-expression, women’s suffrage, and emancipation. 

Even a land like Afghanistan is not untouched by these 
waves of new thought, and there is a young Afghan party 
which seeks for progress on western lines. 

As we review even in this bald way some of these changes 
in the world of Islam, the startling fact emerges that no 
single country is uninfluenced by this renaissance. Every 
part of the Moslem world is passing through a period of 
momentous changes. New life is taking the place of an 
indifferent lethargy. Western civilization is becoming 
increasingly an ideal in these lands, and with it goes a 
burning thirst for new knowledge on the one hand and 
democratic government on the other. Nationality is the 
universal cry, Islam has struck its tents and is on the 
march. 

It was this phenomenon of a hitherto static Moslem 
world in the throes of change and revolution that led me 
to try to see present events in the light of Islamic history. 
I saw Islam, born in the desert, suddenly projected into 
the outside world. Every country conquered was in- 
fluenced by the message of Islam, and in turn reacted upon 
this new faith, so that Mohammedanism assumed a variety 
of forms according to the contributions of differing types 
of thought and national ideals. All down the centuries 
since Mohammed’s death there have been, broadly speak- 
ing, two voices in Islam — ^the one defending rigid, static, 
orthodox doctrine, the other pleading for a liberal, pro- 
gressive, and modern faith. Every Moslem land shows 
traces of the conflict between those who sought to preserve 



8 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Islam in its primitive purity and those who aimed at 
adapting it to new conditions and environment. 

These reflections took me back first of all to Arabia, 
the home of Islam, and there in the desert seemed an 
explanation for much that is cold and austere in the faith* 
Fanaticism is not necessarily an essential element in 
Islam, but it has often been a marked feature in Arab 
Islam. Thus one must distinguish between the Arab type, 
as represented to-day by the Wahhabis, and other types 
such as the Persian and Indian. 

I tried to see what happened to this Arab faith as it 
took root in other lands. The chapters of this book are 
not written on any geographical plan of showing Islam in 
this or that country, but rather to select one country as 
illustration of each great movement. The book does not 
work its way chronologically down the centuries but seeks 
to give big sweeps of history in single chapters. We there- 
fore start with the man Mohammed, and watch the rapid 
expansion of Islam east and west. We then turn to the 
influence of national cultures upon the faith and note the 
broad tolerance of the Abbasides in Baghdad, and the 
advance of learning in Spain. As we follow out this line 
of thought we get further and further from the Arab, who, 
however great he appears in history as a military enthu- 
siast, was never a creative thinker. Islamic culture as seen 
in architecture, art, and literature was the contribution of 
other lands to Islam, and was not inspired by the desert. 

Islam as it emerged from Arabia was deistic and very 
largely non-mystical, but in Persia it assumed the form of 
mysticism which, through the dervishes, has influenced 
the religion for all time. This new element, that was 
pantheistic in tendency, split Islam in twain, and the 
great schism of the Shiahs has made Islamic unity ever 
since an impossibility. This movement I have tried to 
trace out to the present day, when it finds expression in 
semi-Moslem cults such as Bahaism. 

In Africa, pagan and illiterate, Islam, coming with a 



ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD 


9 


clear-cut creed and philosophy of life, made great strides. 
Here I have sought to show whatever good there is that 
can be attributed to Islam in its impact upon savage 
peoples. That Islam has been influenced in turn by 
Paganism is without doubt. Animism in Islam is to-day 
a marked feature in Africa, and pagan rites and customs 
have passed into the practice of Mohammedanism. 

These studies in Moslem growth, the action and reaction 
upon the faith in different lands, have a vital relationship 
to all that we are reading about Islam in the press to-day. 
Islam in the past attacked the then civilized world, repre- 
sented by Persia in the East and by Latin and Byzantine 
Christianity in the West. It planted itself in many homes 
of ancient culture, and the processes that we notice down 
the centuries come to a climax in the world to-day through 
the linking together of all lands by the inventions and 
discoveries of science in the past hundred years. The 
western world is now pouring into the bottles of Islam the 
new wine of modern thought. The struggle for liberty 
of conscience and a liberal outlook upon life has never 
ceased in the Moslem world. To-day it is in its acutest 
stage, and as far as one can tell in this transition period 
the new thought is winning the day everywhere. 

The world has shrunk in size since Mohammed preached 
his faith, and what were then isolated and separated lands 
are all to-day linked together in a world policy. Isolation 
has gone and no country now lives unto itself. Moslems 
slept while the rest of the world advanced, and Europe 
obtained a strangle-hold upon most Moslem lands. To- 
day through our own science and literature the youth of 
Islam is awake and alert, and the Moslem world is passing 
through a great crisis in its affairs. Islam, it is true, can 
never “ be the same again.” These lands will no longer 
bow to the despotic rule of Sultan or Caliph. 

That Islam will emerge still Islam seems unquestion- 
able, but what type it will be is quite uncertain. Modem 
Islam is adapting itself at present to a western idealism, 



10 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


and in its efforts to become progressive it is absorbing all 
that the West can teach it. Yet on its political side it is 
more actuated by a dread of the West than by any con- 
structive policy for the development of its own culture. 

After surveying many changes in many lands we come 
back to the inscrutable Arab. Few Europeans have ever 
been able to fathom what goes on in the minds of these 
silent sons of the desert. The Arab is changed least of 
all peoples in this world of change. He lives but a stone’s- 
throw from Europe, and yet his is a world apart, insepa- 
rably associated with “ the land of thirst and terror.” A 
police officer was met one day by an Arab who wrung his 
hand violently, his face wreathed in smiles, and jerked 
out excitedly, “ Don’t you remember me ? You gave me 
five years’ jail for theft — ^I’ve just come out to-day. By 
Allah! it is good to see you again.” ^ An unexpected 
greeting certainly, and yet it is the unexpected that always 
happens in Arabia. Nothing was less likely in the seventh 
century than an Arab world-expansion and an Arab 
empire, but it happened. The Arabs are of Semitic 
stock, and the Semites have always surprised the world 
by their amazing vitality. They have influenced the 
world more than any other race. It is significant that 
to-day Arabia is becoming united again for the first time 
since the break-up of Moslem tribal confederation in the 
early days of Islam. Orthodox Islam under the strong 
leadership of Ibn Saoud is a force with which the outside 
world must reckon. 

In the past it has always been at a time when Arabia 
counted least in world politics that she has startled the 
world by movements that have shaken civilization to its 
foundations. We have not heard the last of Arabia, nor 
of the man who founded the Moslem faith. But to under- 
stand this better we must turn back to the seventh century 
and look at Islam as Mohammed conceived it in his home 
in Mecca and Medina. 

^ Bedouin Justice, by AuBtin Kennett, p. 150. 



CHAPTER II 

THE MAN MOHAMMED 

God is most great ! God is most great I God is most 
great ! I bear witness that there is no other . . . save 
God. I bear witness that there is no other God save God. 
I bear witness that Mohammed is the Apostle of God. 
Hasten to divine worship. Hasten to divine worship. 
Hasten to permanent blessedness. God is most great 1 
God is most great I There is no God save God. 

Centuries before the days of wireless this trumpet-call 
was broadcast from Calcutta to Cairo and from Asia to 
Africa. With musical intonation this message, which 
summons the faithful to prayer, sounds out five times a 
day from thousands of mosques in every part of the 
Moslem world. 

I was once the guest of a Mohammedan in the Near 
East. Several Moslem merchants were staying in the 
same house. In the early morning we were wakened by 
the call to prayer from a neighbouring minaret ; who 
could sleep again when over the stillness of the early dawn 
we heard a voice calling, “ Come to prayer. Prayers are 
better than sleep ! ” We were sleeping on long divans 
arranged round the walls of a large room. The true 
believers rose, rubbed their eyes, and muttered, ‘‘Praise 
be to God. I witness that there is no God but God and 
Mohammed is the Apostle of God.” Then turning to each 
other they said, “ Peace be on you,” and each responded, 
“ On you be peace.” Noticing that I was awake, the 
formula at once changed, and they all said to me, “May 
your day be happy.” None prayed peace on me for I 
was an unbeliever, and there can be no peace outside 

u 



12 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Islam. In a few minutes they made their way to a neigh- 
bouring mosque, where, standing up, they repeated, “ I 
have purposed to offer up to God only this morning, with 
a sincere heart, my prayers.’^ 

As soon as worship was over we foregathered at our 
host’s shop, and coffee having been ordered, the day’s 
work began. Bargain and barter were inextricably mixed 
up with pious ejaculations and prayers. Traders swore 
by the Prophet that they were selling goods below cost 
price, and heated discussions were mixed up with appeals 
to the Almighty to witness that sheer ruin would face the 
merchant who sold at such prices. At midday the call 
from the minaret was sounded again, and suddenly every- 
thing ceased. Business half-finished was suspended and 
all moved off to the mosque. Throughout that day I sat 
there, listening to and talking with men whose religion 
was woven into the very fibre of their life. Their trade 
language was religious ; their minds, while intent on 
business, never wandered from the supreme fact of God 
and of their absolute dependence upon Him. To them it 
was just as natural to speak about God as to bargain over 
the price of cloth. Life was all one — ^religious from start 
to finish : the social side was religiously social, and the 
business of the day was shot through with faith in Allah 
and His help to the true believer, enabling the Moslem to 
triumph in a bargain over the dogs of Christians. What 
then, we ask, was the source of such a religion ? 

Mohammed, an Arab of the Arabs, has stamped his 
personality and his faith upon millions of people. He 
still holds the undivided allegiance of people in every part 
of the globe. His laws are divine precepts to many races 
and widely separated peoples. His example, his teach- 
ing, and his ideals inspire men in every walk of life. No 
one but Jesus Christ holds the love and affection of so 
many people as does Mohammed. To over two hundred 
and thirty million people he is still the world’s greatest 
man, the last and final Prophet, the hope of the world. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


18 


and the ideal for the human race.^ Who, then, was 
Mohammed ? 

About the year a.d. 622 we see Mohammed astride a 
white camel racing across the desert from Mecca to Medina. 
In Mecca he had declared himself a prophet ; trouble had 
followed, and now he is a fugitive fleeing for his life to 
Medina. 

As the camel climbs to the top of a hill he is silhouetted 
against the sky. He is on a high point in an immense 
plateau, rocky and sandy, in what the Arabs call “the 
land of terror and thirst.” A closer view shows the 
Prophet to be a man of medium height and a little over 
fifty years of age. He is dressed in flowing Arab robes. 
He has a prominent aquiline nose and a pair of flashing 
eyes that seem to pierce through those who approach him. 
There is nothing of the ascetic in his appearance. On the 
contrary he is a very human man, swayed by all the 
passions of human nature. He blazes out in wrath as he 
thinks of his persecutors, and yet he can be kind and 
gentle as a mother with her babe. His whole appearance 
gives the impression of strength and resolve. His sinewy 
figure is built to withstand fatigue and hardship, and as 
he flees from his persecutors in Mecca he has one fixed and 
determined resolve — ^to be recognized as the Prophet of 
God throughout Arabia. Legend tells us that he was 
offered anything he might choose, wealth or power, if 
only he would give up his claim to the prophetic office, 
but, scorning all, he turned his back on his birthplace and 

^ This may be open to challenge in view of the changes taking place in many 
Moslem lands, but the Mohammedan, deeply imbued with western thought, 
draws a sharp distinction between the Islamic system and code of law and 
the personality of the Prophet. He will openly criticize many things in Islam, 
but his love and loyalty to Mohammed are deep and unshaken. 

This is why to-day Moslem scholars are seeking to disentangle the man 
Mohammed from the many traditions which surround the story of his life. 
The rallying-point in Islam now is the man. His personality dominates the 
situation, and the Islam of the future will stand or fall upon the character of 
the founder of the faith. For a fuller exposition of this theme the reader is 
referred to TM Ideal Prophet, by Khwaja Kemal-ud-Din. 



14 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

sought to establish his faith in the more congenial soil of 
Medina. 

His life was ever simple and primitive. He never 
assumed the garb of an eastern potentate. He was 
always accessible to his followers. He loved children, and 
was known to pray with a sleeping child in his arms. 
His environment was Arabia, a land of perpetual raids and 
assassinations. The standard of conduct in social and 
moral affairs was that of the clan, and Mohammed accepted 
it. Hospitality was a sacred tradition of the land, and 
Mohammed said, “ Honour the guest, even though he be 
an infidel.” He lived surrounded by the desert, and its 
grandeur, isolation, and beauty left an indehble mark 
upon him. 

“ The desert,” some one has said, “ is God’s handiwork 
unmarred by a single human element,” and it was in this 
desert that Mohammed learned of the omnipotence and 
greatness of God. “ God is great ” is simply Mohammed 
giving echo to the voice of the desert. Immutability and 
strength are symbolized in the vast sandy wastes of Arabia, 
and Arabs have pitted all the strength and endurance of 
human nature against the desert, but it has remained 
unchanged and terrible. 

The desert makes life a question of the survival of the 
fittest, for it devours the weak and only the strong can live. 
It thus shapes men into its own likeness. 

It is not an unreasonable deduction that such an en- 
vironment is responsible for much of the theology of Islam, 
and to a large degree for the conception of God which 
Mohammed gave to the world. A hberal writer in a 
Turkish newspaper wrote recently, “ God said in the 
Koran, ‘Verily we have sent down the Koran in the 
Arabic language so that you may understand it.’ From 
these words it is evident that the Koran was addressed to 
the Arabs — ^the Turks can have no share in it. In the 
early days of superstition it was only natural that each 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


15 


people should have a God of their own creation, and in 
that case it was to be expected that the revengeful Arab 
should have a mighty, revengeful God.” Such modem 
Tinkish writers see in Arabia and the Arab character the 
backgroimd and setting to Mohammed’s life and teaching. 

The Arab is of a proud, independent, and pugnacious 
nature, combined with great force of character and wonder- 
ful patience. His virtues are mainly due to the chivalry 
of the desert, and his vices are fostered by an environment 
which makes a man’s creed “ Every man for himself and 
the devil take the hindmost.” The lonely journeys across 
the desert develop a sense of personal freedom and in- 
dependence. Jack is as good as his master, and an Arab 
scorns to use titles when addressing people. He will 
stalk into the presence of his prince or chief, and address 
him simply as Abdullah, or whatever his name may be. 
In such a land where life is stem and the desert relentless, 
all men are equal, and no caste or rank or class can exist 
where God appears so terribly omnipotent. They all 
breathe the same free air, roam the same free desert, and 
every man does that which is right in his own eyes ; there 
is one person superior to him and one only : that is God. 

A tribe is knit together by ties of kinship, mutual pro- 
tection, and traditions. There is little inter-tribal unity ; 
a tribe views its neighbours, Moslems though they are, as 
fair spoil for a raid. The attitude of one tribe to another 
is simply that of pirates. Mohammed sought in Islam to 
create a super-tribe, inclusive of all Arabia, knit together 
by new bonds of religion which would transcend any ties 
of kinship. Islam was conceived upon a tribal basis, and 
much in Mohammed’s life finds explanation when one 
remembers that he shared with others the Arab ideas, 
morals, and ethics of his day. 

There is no doubt that God was intensely real to 
Mohammed. His task in life was to serve Him, and his 
conception of God naturally governed his outlook. To 
Mohammed God was a super-Arab. His attributes are 



16 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

those of an Arab with unlimited power. Dr Harrison has 
said, “ Mohammedanism is Uttle more than the Bedouin 
mind projected into the realm of relipon.” ^ 

Mohammed stood forth before the people to interpret 
what was after all sub-conscious in the Arab mind. His 
religion, while it contained many novel features and some 
originality, was nevertheless in its basic conception Semitic, 
and therefore latent in Arab character and personality. 
It was thoroughly Arab. It is a religion bom in the 
desert, of the desert, with a desert conception of (Jod, 
and with a desert outlook on life. Mohammed looked out 
on the world beyond Arabia in much the same way as he 
viewed other non-Moslem tribes around him. The world 
was fair spoil for his pirate army. This was why he 
divided the world into two parts — the House of Islam (the 
community of all true Moslems) and the House of War (the 
rest of the world). His injunction to extend the House 
of Islam in all parts was in essence exactly the same as the 
action of the sheikh of a tribe in sending out his raiders to 
subdue and pillage a neighbour. 

On what standard then can we judge this man ? The 
Traditions * of Islam, by their stories of myths and miracles, 
have given a wholly distorted picture of a great man. 
Modem Moslem thinkers indeed are coming to acknow- 
ledge this fact and freely to reject traditions where they 
contradict what are felt to be the essential characteristics 
of Mohammed. For example, Moslems in England pick 

1 The AraJba at Home, p. 42. 

• The Traditions . — ^All Moslems believe that in addition to the revelation 
contained in the Koran the Prophet received an unwritten revelation enabling 
him to give authoritative declarations on religious questions. The Traditions 
are, therefore, supposed to be the uninspired record of inspired sayings. They 
form a record of what Mohammed ordered during his discussions and con- 
versations with his followers. Mohammed gave strict injunctions about the 
transmission of these ** sayings.” Some forty thousand persons have been 
instrumental in handing them down, but Bukhari only acknowledges as 
reliable about two thousand of them. These traditions have been collect^ and 
edited by learned Moslem divines, and are used as a supplement to the Koran. 
Much of our information about Mohammed and Islam is due to this source. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


17 


and choose traditions at will in order to build up a new 
picture of Mohammed, If we compare Mohammed with 
other great leaders, such as Alexander, Xerxes, or Csesar, 
we at once realize how. much more permanent has been 
his work than that of most other world leaders. It is 
often asked, Was Mohammed sincere or deluded, deceived 
or deceiver ? Such a question is not the right method 
of approach to the problem. The character of Mohammed 
the Arab, like that of most Arabs to-day, wets a mixture 
of many fine traits of character and much that, judged by 
modem standards, was evil ; sincerity and deceit were 
intermingled, and both were used to serve a common end.^ 
Who can read the prayer of Mohammed and the religious 
purpose of the Koran without noticing a ring of sincerity ? 
Ayesha, the favourite wife of Mohammed, gives the 
following prayer which the Prophet was fond of using : 

Make me a fearer of Thee, and a great obeyer of Thee, 
and a great humbler of myself before Thee and a com- 
plainer and repenter to Thee. Accept my repentance and 
wash away my sins and approve my supplications ; and 
make my tongue true ; and show my heart the straight 
road and draw away the blackness of my heart. Make us 
satisfied with Thee. O Lord, pardon my faults, inconsi- 
derate speaking and blundering, my wicked labours and 
intentions. O Lord, give me Thy friendship. Give us of 
Thy obedience that will bring us to Thy Paradise.* 

There are many references in the Koran to the spiritual 
life : the need of prayer, forgiveness, and mercy. Moham- 
med had deep spiritual aspirations and high ideals, and he 
was undoubtedly a seeker after God. 

To leave the picture thus would not be to give a true 
conception of an Arab, though it does help to emphasize 
one aspect of Arab character, Mohammed had many 
faults, and they were the common faults and failings of 

^ See The Traditions of Islam, by A. Guillaume, pp. 150>6. 

* Quoted in The Internoitional Review of Missions, April 1926, p. 198. 

B 



18 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


his day. They were shared by his people as a whole, 
though at times he did succeed in shocking even the Arabs’ 
sense of propriety, as, for example, when he married the 
divorced wife of his adopted son. This was contrary to 
all Arab tradition, but the Prophet did not allow this to 
stand in his way. His action was right, he declared ; and 
though he caused no small scandal at the time, yet he 
silenced it by a divine revelation in which God is made to 
say, “ When Zaid had settled the matter of her divorce, 
we did wed her to thee that it might not be a crime in the 
faithful to marry the wives of their adopted sons.” ^ 
Anyone who reads C. M. Doughty’s Travels in Arabia 
Desertay and compares his accounts of Arab raids and 
expeditions with the Traditions of Mohammed as given 
in the writings of A1 Bukhari and AI Halabi, will at once 
see how strikingly alike they are. Mohammed must be 
judged relatively to the violence, indifference to blood- 
shed, and loot of the people among whom he lived. He 
was the best that seventh-century Arabia could produce, 
and as such there is much that we can admire and a good 
deal that we can condone as accounted for by the primi- 
tive environment of the man. In aggressive warfare 
Mohammed gave to his followers a strong lead. Moslem 
authorities give case after case where Mohammed attacked 
tribes and was the aggressor. The attack on the tribe of 
Khaybar is a good and authenticated example. Assassina- 
tions were carried out, much as they are to-day, but then 
they were at the instigation of Mohammed himself, and were 
an easy way of removing suspected people. Mohammed 
having begun on this path, found it impossible to draw 
back, and one thing led to another. In inter-tribal wars 
the Arabs, by general agreement, always spared the date 
palms, but Mohammed in his attack on the Bani Nadir 
had the date palms burned or cut down. The authority 
for this is Ibn Ishaq, the oldest biographer of Mohammed, 
and a Moslem. The treatment of women in warfare has 


1 Koran, chap. 33, v. 37. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


19 


been the subject of much adverse criticism of Mohammed ; 
and there is no doubt, if Moslem authorities are to be relied 
on, that he sanctioned and took part in atrocities very 
similar to those reported, from Armenia in recent times.^ 
Turkey, in fact, has simply copied what Mohammed and 
his followers did. He laid down the rule that the capture 
of women in battle did ipso facto dissolve previous heathen 
marriages. 

The times were certainly barbarous and cruel, for 
Moslem tradition tells of the slaughter of prisoners of war 
in cold blood, the torture of captives to make them reveal 
the secret of their hidden treasures, and the slaying of 
men travelling to Medina under safe-conduct. These and 
many other similar things could be related from Moham- 
medan sources, and again let us say that, though these 
incidents do not represent the whole picture, they do form 
an essential part of it, and no character sketch of the 
Prophet would be complete that either ignored or with- 
held such charges. Judged by our present-day standards 
they are horrible in their cruelty and treachery, but 
according to Arab law of the seventh century they do not 
represent anything very extraordinary. It is difficult for 
the average British reader to understand that a man could 
have deep spiritual aspirations, noble ideals, and high 
resolves, and yet be cruel, treacherous, and relentless. 
The two seemingly contradictory characteristics are not, 
however, incompatible in Arab character. 

The same curious mixture appears when we examine 
Mohammed’s legislature. According to the Koran, theft 
is to be pimished by mutilation of the criminal. Christian 
minorities are treated as outlaws, and the apostate from 
Islam is sentenced to death. The same book speaks of 
the mercy of God, and calls men to brotherhood, worship, 
and prayer. The only explanation that meets the diffi- 
culty is that we are dealing with a seventh-century Arab 
who displayed all the traits of a barbarous time, and yet 
^ See Appendix. 



20 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


was a genuine seeker after God. Much is explained by 
what he believed to be God’s attitude to Moslems and His 
very different attitude towards the rest of the world. 
When Mohammed was asked about the friendship that 
often existed between Moslems and Jews or Christians, the 
following oracle was given which throws a flood of light on 
the Mohanunedan attitude to the world outside Islam : 

O ye who believe, take not the Jews or the Christians 
for your friends. They are the friends of each other : but 
whoso amongst you take them for friends, verily he is of 
them, and verily God guides not an unjust people.^ 

Apologists for Islam put forward this man, not as an 
Arab seventh-century ideal, but as the perfect pattern for 
the whole human race to-day, and here we must take 
issue with our Moslem friends. Moslems are fond of the 
form of propaganda that attacks the person of Jesus 
Christ and exalts Mohammed. I once sat with a number 
of Moslem sheikhs. We discussed freely Mohammed’s 
demands upon life, his standards, his legislation, adapted 
to the weaknesses of human nature, and his spiritual 
claims on men. I drew out a copy of the New Testament 
and began to read the Sermon on the Mount. This, I 
said, is what Christ taught. The sheikhs listened respect- 
fully, and when I had finished, one of them exclaimed, 
“ Thank God, I am not a Christian.” He felt that the 
standard was too high and altogether impossible. Moslems 
have often used the argument that Islam is better suited 
to the needs of a practical world than is the idealism of 
Jesus Christ. If expediency is the standard of moral and 
spiritual progress in the world, this may be so ; but after 
reading Mohammedan authorities it is difficult to see where 
the standards of Islam really help humanity. They allow 
wide scope for the free indulgence of passions, and little 
ideal of self-restraint appears. Anger, violence, and lust 
are allowed free rein, and the nobler qualities, such as 

' Koran, chap. 6, v. 27. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


21 


forgiveness of one’s enemies, are non-existent. This 
complex character was certainly above the men of his 
time in many things, yet in other respects he was most 
certainly on their level. • In seeking to compare him with 
Jesus Christ one is perplexed to find any common ground 
at all. Between this Arab reformer-general, with his 
military genius and his spiritual longings, and the Saviour 
of the world, with His self-sacrifice, service for others, 
humility, and love, there is a great gulf that makes com- 
parison an impossibility. 

A study of the life of Mohammed and of the Koran 
shows that with accession to power there was a marked 
moral deterioration in his character. This is becoming 
apparent to educated Moslems, who in some cases are 
actually advocating the elimination of the chapters of 
the Koran written in Medina. 

The arrangement of the chapters of the Koran is not 
in any sense chronological, so that if a person reads the 
book straight through he gets a confused idea of Mohammed 
and Islam. Fortunately each chapter is marked as given 
either in Mecca or Medina, and we are thus afforded one 
historical line which helps us to see Mohammed in the 
two great periods into which his life divides. 

If the reader will take, say, Rodwell’s translation of 
the Koran and study the chapters as they are there given 
chronologically, he will at once see the unfolding of the 
Prophet’s mind — ^from that of a moral teacher and reformer 
who attacked the idolatry of Mecca to that of the warrior 
chief who sought to subdue a country. In the early days 
of Islam the poetic nature of Mohammed comes out, and 
his utterances are mainly denunciations of evil and threats 
of divine punishment. These were the days of persecu- 
tion, and Mohammed encouraged his followers thus : 
“ The Lord hath not forsaken thee.” Believers are 
exhorted to trust God, who carries their burden. But 
troubles also call forth another note in the Prophet ; and 
of a leading chief in Mecca who led the opposition to the 



22 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

new faith, God is made to say : “ I will lay grievous woes 
upon him, for he plotted and planned. May he be cursed.” 
Such imprecations are fairly common. They have a 
Semitic ring about them that reminds one of certain of 
the Psalms. 

The Meccans demanded to see signs and miracles as 
proof of Mohammed’s claim. The only miracle that he 
ever claimed to perform, however, was the giving of the 
Koran itself.^ There is also the verse which speaks of the 
splitting of the moon into two, and legend has woven 
around it fantastic tales that Mohammed himself would 
be the first to disown were he here to-day. The early 
chapters have blissful pictures of a material heaven and 
lurid accounts of hell. Whether these were meant to be 
taken as allegory is uncertain. Moslems then took them 
literally ; to-day, while the Mohammedan populace receive 
these descriptions of heaven and hell as literal, modernist 
Islamic writers are very clear in their statements that 
they were meant to be regarded as spiritual allegories. 

Mohammed’s boldest stand was taken in his denuncia- 
tion of idolatry, and here we see the true reformer standing 

^ While the Prophet does not appear anywhere in the Koran to have claimed 
the power of working miracles, yet at times he gave evidence of a belief in 
divine manifestations. When asked why he did not work miracles, he said, 
“ Signs are in the power of God alone, and I am only a plain-spoken wamer ** 
(Koran, chap. 29, v. 49). 

Moslems believe that on four occasions at lecist God gave signs as His seal 
of Mohammed’s prophetic o£Soe : 

1. ** The splitting of the moon in twain ” (Koran, chap. 54, v. 1-2). 

This many regard as a sign of the last day and a prophecy of a future 
event, not a past act. 

2. The help given to the Moslems in the battle of Bedr. “ Your Lord aideth 

you with three thousand angels sent down from on high ” (Koran, 
chap. 3, V. 120). 

3. The celebrated night journey. “ We declare the Glory of Him who 

transported His servant by night ” [from Mecca to Jerusalem] (Koran, 
chap. 17, v. 1). 

4. The Koran itself is the great miracle of Mohammed. It is a clear sign 

in the hearts of those whom the knowledge hath reached ** (Koran, 
chap. 29, V. 48). 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


28 


before a hostile people, exposing the falseness of idols and 
idol-worship and calling the Arabs back to faith in the one 
true God. In this he fortifies himself from the writings 
and example of Old Testament characters. He gets a 
little mixed in relating Bible history, and confuses Miriam, 
the sister of Moses, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He 
seems to have imagined that they were the same person. 
He recalls the trials of Moses, Noah, Lot, and other men, 
always leading up to the point that he is the last of a long 
line of prophets. Out of this there is developed another 
idea. Mohammed is not founding a new religion — he is 
the last prophet of the one and only divine religion that 
the world has ever seen. From Adam onwards all the 
prophets were pointing to Islam : “ Before the Koran was 
the Book of Moses, a rule and a mercy, and this book 
[the Koran] confirmeth it.” ^ This placed Mohammed in 
the difficulty of having to explain claims that he put 
forth which contradicted the Old and New Testaments. 
His answer was simply that previous Scriptures had be- 
come corrupted, and the Koran was given by God as the 
true guide, and superseded them.^ 

At Mecca Mohammed was very much ‘‘ A voice crying 
in the wilderness.” He believed that he had a God- 
imposed task, and he meant to fulfil it in spite of bitter 
opposition, slander, abuse, and persecution. Up to this 
point we have the picture of a reformer and spiritual 
leader. His teaching is a call to repentance, because God 
is omnipotent and one. A few precepts are fixed, but 
Islam as a system is still in a fluid state. The turning- 
point comes in the flight to Medina ; the change in 
Mohammed’s fortunes meant a complete change in the 
development of Islam. New and hitherto unknown char- 
acteristics appear. The sudden change from being a 
persecuted fugitive to become the acknowledged leader of 
a small though growing community altered Mohammed’s 

^ Koran, chap. 46, v. 11. 

* See Mohammed and Ulam, by J. Goldziher, pp. 94-5* 



24 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

whole life. The Medina chapters of the Koran bring this 
out with unmistakable clearness. We now lose the mis- 
sionary aiming to win converts, and we see a legislator and 
warrior dictating obedience to his people. The sword takes 
to a large extent the place of the pen, and Arabia is warned 
that “ Whoso obeyeth the Apostle obeyeth God.’’ The 
Koran thus reveals to us a man who began his career as 
an earnest seeker after truth, and who, by the acquisition 
of power, used his religious impulses for self-aggrandise- 
ment. In true Arab style he resorted to intrigue in order 
to please, cajole, and conciliate the conflicting elements 
in Medina. The Jews were powerful in Medina, and every 
effort was made to win them. When this failed, they were 
denounced as hypocrites, threatened with the fires of hell, 
and ultimately exterminated or driven out. 

The refugees at first found it very difficult to earn a 
living, and necessity probably drove Mohammed to seek 
new supplies by an attempt to loot a rich Meccan caravan. 
Whatever the motive may have been, this event marked 
a turning-point in the fortunes of Islam. The preacher, 
calling to repentance, becomes a man of blood, an Arab 
pirate, who by repeated successes finds himself at the 
head of a powerful army. This change was so remarkable 
that it called for a special revelation, and in the Koran, 
chap. 22, V. 40-41, we read : 

A sanction is given to those who, because they have 
suffered outrages, have taken up arms. 

This had obvious reference to the persecutions at Mecca. 
As an open conflict with Mecca became inevitable, further 
revelations appear, such as ‘‘ Fight for the cause of God ” 
(chap. 2, V. 245). 

This was the first call to b, jihad (holy war). Mohammed 
by this time saw clearly the value of one faith for Arabia, 
and fighting was to be the method of gaining the supremacy 
for Islam. From the same chapter we quote the following : 
“ Fight, therefore, against them imtil there be no more 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


25 


civil discord, and the only worship be that of God” 
(verse 189). 

This marks a further stage in the new policy. The true 
faith is not only to be defended by the sword but estab- 
lished by it until all have become Moslem.^ 

The battle of Bedr was the first real application of the 
new law. Its success established in the minds of the Arabs 
the truth of Mohammed’s claim. Those who doubted were 
willing enough to accept what was asserted when they 
shared in the booty and loot. As raid followed raid, the 
poor refugees became wealthy. It was a lucrative form 
of sport, and it was typically Arab. No wonder, therefore, 
that with each raid there was gained a fresh accession of 
strength, both to the cause of Islam and to the army of 
freebooters who were looting and despoiling their neigh- 
bours in the name of God. 

With success, Mohammed’s vision expanded, and he 
began to look out upon the world beyond Arabia. Mission- 
aries were sent to Egypt and Persia, and Mohammed 
published his programme of world conquest. 

The following is an extract from a letter sent to Egypt : 

In the name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate. 
From the Apostle of Allah to the Chief of the Copts. 
Peace be on him who follows the guidance. I summon 
thee with the appeal of Islam, become a Moslem and thou 
shalt be safe. If thou decline, then on thee is the guilt of 
the Copts.2 

It is imcertain how many of such letters he wrote, but 
there is little doubt that Herachus, the Emperor of Con- 
stantinople, received one, probably when he was in Emesa, 
and another was despatched to the Persian king. Other 
messengers set out to the stiU pagan tribes of Arabia, and 
Mohammed had embarked upon a policy of world dominion. 
He was the head of a comparatively strong army. Reform 

^ See Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 175, by S. W. Koelle. 

* Quoted in Margoliouth’s Mohammed, p. 366. 



26 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

was now by law and coercion, and not as in the Mecca days 
by an appeal to conscience. Having acquired power, he 
cast aside the earlier methods of conciliation and openly 
preached a sacred war in which God, it was claimed, would 
fight for Islam. However noble was the conception of a 
world faith which should recognize only one God, we 
cannot lose sight of the doctrine of “ holy war ” as an 
avowed means to this end. Political power became more 
and more the dominating aim, with war as the means of 
attaining to it. In earlier days Mohammed had said : 
“ Let there be no compulsion in religion.” This still 
much-quoted verse lost its meaning as the victorious 
general was able to enforce his faith by strength of 
arms and law.^ 

When tottering to his grave, the aged Prophet left as 
his last legacy to Islam * the policy of universal war. 

In all fairness, a student of Islam should compare the 
picture of an Arab army, with the sword in one hand and 
the Koran in the other, spreading the faith to the cry from 
violated homes, burning cities, and ruined lands, with the 
message of Jesus Christ to His disciples, Peace I leave 
with you. My peace I give unto you.” ‘‘ Go ye and preach 
the Gospel, heal the sick,” etc. Mr H. G. Wells writes : 

Because he too [Mohammed] founded a great religion, 
there are those who write of this evidently lustful and 

1 Contradiotions in the Koran are accounted for by the doctrine of abroga- 
tion. If a later revelation is contrary to an early one the early one is can- 
celled and the later one is binding on the Moslem. Thus originally Moslems 
turned to Jerusalem in prayer (see Koran, chap. 2, v. 116), and later on, when 
Mohammed became established, the order came for those in prayer to face 
toward Mecca (Koran, chap. 2, v. 146). In the same way Mohammed in 
Mecca said Let there be no compulsion in Islam,*’ but later on he ordered 

jihad (see the Koran, chap. 4, v. 89 ; 9, 6 ; 7, 67 ; 9, 92). 

• Islam is the word used by Moslems themselves for their religion. It means 
resignation to the will of Qod. Mohammed’s explanation was that it meant 
obedience to the five duties of the faith: (1) recitation of the creed, (2) daily 
prayers, (3) alms, (4) the fast in Ramadan, (6) pilgrimage to Mecca. The 
word Moslem or Muslim is derived from it, and means those who are surrendered. 
Mohammedanism is the western term for Islam. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


27 


rather shifty leader as though he were a man to put beside 
Jesus of Nazareth, or Gautama, or Mani. But it is surely 
manifest that he was a being of commoner clay ; he was 
vain, egotistical, tyrannous, and a self-deceiver ; and it 
would throw all our history out of proportion if, out of an 
insincere deference to the possible Moslem reader, we were 
to present him in any other light.^ 

While, as we have said, it would be unreasonable to 
judge Mohammed by twentieth-century standards, yet 
it would be equally unfair to make him responsible for 
all the harsher interpretations put by orthodox Moslems 
upon his sayings. He was not only ahead of his contem- 
poraries, but he was also a bigger man than his successors. 
The social horizon of the Arabs stops short at the tribe, 
and outside the tribe he has no neighbour and therefore 
no social obligations. Mohammed succeeded in making 
Islam a united family, and a new and wider sense of clan- 
ship grew up. But since his day the old tribes have 
reasserted themselves, and the much-boasted Moslem 
solidarity has seldom been little more than a beautiful 
theory. Tribes have raided tribes as in earlier days, and 
Moslems have fought Moslems in every age since the 
Prophet’s death down to the Great War of 1914-1918. 
The spirit of toleration advocated at times by Mohammed 
has been lost sight of by his successors, and Islamic history 
has been marked by an intolerance seldom seen elsewhere 
in the world. ‘‘Abjure or die,” “Abjure or be slaves,” 
was the demand that confronted any conquered people. 
The interpreters of the Koran, by their intolerance and 
narrow outlook, have killed any possible germ of progress 
in Islam. Institutions as well as laws have come to be re- 
garded as immutable, and thus individuals and nations have 
been moulded into a common pattern of dull uniformity. 

Mohammedan writers of to-day tell us that Mohammed 
sought the emancipation of women and gave a loftier 
ideal of womanhood than any previous prophet. The fact 

1 Outlines of History ^ p. 324* 



28 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

that he had eleven lawful wives himself and yet limited 
his followers to four is ingeniously explained thus : 

He [Mohammed] was compelled to wage war against his 
enemies, which thinned the ranks of his friends, who gave 
their lives for him, leaving behind widows, who surely 
needed shelter and protection. Then it was that the law 
of polygamy was promulgated, to meet this necessity.^ 

This is a fair specimen of the new colour given to the 
character of Mohammed by modern writers. Mohammed 
and his followers practised polygamy long before this 
necessity (if necessity it was) arose. He himself married, 
at the age of fifty-three, Ayesha, a little girl of ten. He 
certainly married Juwairiah, a widow, but she was the 
widow of the chief of the Beni Mustalik, who fought against 
Mohammed and was slain in battle, and the beautiful 
widow was taken by Mohammed as part of his share of 
the spoils of war. It was a strange way of providing 
“ shelter and protection ’’ for a sorrowing widow whose 
husband had just been slain in one of the Prophet’s raids ! 
Uriah the Hittite was treated in much the same way by 
David ; but the Bible does not condone his action, it 
condemns it. Moslem writers to-day seek to whitewash 
the Prophet, but the lustful side of his character is typical 
of the man and cannot be explained away in this manner. 
The pretty Zeinab was divorced by her husband because 
he discovered Mohammed coveted her, and she immedi- 
ately became a wife of the Prophet. Safiyah’s husband 
was cruelly put to death by Mohammed, who promptly 
added her too to his harem. 

In addition to these he had his concubines, such as 
Mary, the Christian slave girl from Egypt, and Rihanah, a 
Jewess, whose husband perished in a massacre of Jews by 
Mohammed.* 

When evil customs connected with marriage and 
^ The Ideal Prophet, Khwaja Kemal-ud-Din, p. 147. 

* See Mohammed and Mohammedanism, Appendix I, ** Mohammed’s wives 
and concubines,” p. 486, by S, W. Koelle. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


29 


divorce are quoted from Moslem lands the usual reply 
is that these are not Islamic but are customs which form 
no part of the faith. This is in many cases probably 
quite true, but example has ever proved stronger than 
precept, and the Prophet cannot be exonerated from all 
blame for the backward state of womanhood in most 
Moslem countries. His example has been copied by his 
faithful followers, and by the practice of polygamy woman 
has been made the chattel of man. In Afghanistan 
recently there occurred an incident that must have opened 
many people’s eyes to Moslem custom in a country under 
Islamic law. An Afghan merchant married a young 
Berlin lady and they went to live in Kabul. The husband 
died, and the wife, to her horror, found that she was part 
of his brother’s inheritance. He offered to marry her, and 
was indignantly refused by the widow. She was, by 
Afridi law, the property of her husband, and his heir put 
her up for sale in the open slave market. “ In order to 
rescue her from the fate of being sold to the highest bidder 
the German Minister purchased her, paying the very high 
price demanded for her.” ^ 

A very remarkable speech on the status of Moslem women 
was delivered by Mrs R. S. Hussein at the Bengal Women’s 
Educational Conference. Mrs Hussein spoke of the 
“ utter neglect, indifference, and ungenerous behaviour 
of Mohammedans to their womenfolk.” She compared 
the purdah system to a deadly carbonic gas, and added : 
“ Our sisters within the purdah are slowly dying a painless 
death due to purdah gas.” Moslems to-day make much of 
the fact that Mohammed abolished the killing of female 
infants, but this is what Mrs Hussein says of it : ‘‘ Though 
Islam has been able to put a stop to the physical killing 
of their daughters, yet the Mussalmans, even up to this 
day, have been killing the mind, the brain, and the in- 
telligence of their womenfolk without any scruple.” ^ 

* Quoted from the Morning Post, 14th January 1927. 

* Quoted in the Staiesmanf Calcutta, 21st April 1927. 



80 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

To this indictment of Mohammed must be added the 
fact that in Islam there have always been two standards 
of conduct — one for Moslems in their relationship to 
fellow-believers, and another for them in their dealings 
with non-Moslem people. The division of the world into 
believers and infidels is the governing principle of all 
Moslem life. In legislation the believer enjoys special 
privileges. In oaths a Moslem’s word or promise is not 
isinding to an infidel. The political and the spiritual 
are so intermingled that it is impossible to say where the 
one ends and the other begins. The civic law is the same 
as the religious law. God is the legislator, and a theo- 
cratic form of government with an autocratic vicegerent 
on earth was Mohammed’s ideal for world politics. It 
might have worked more equably had the whole world 
embraced Islam. As it is, it has meant untold hardship 
to non-Moslem minorities, and a static condition of 
civilization, mind, and outlook to Moslems themselves. 

As Mohammed lay dying he prayed, “ O Lord, I beseech 
Thee to assist me in the agonies of death.” Then three 
times he ejaculated, “ Gabriel, come close unto me.” 
After a little he prayed again, “ Lord, grant me pardon, 
and join me to the companionship on high.” Then at 
intervals he said, “ Eternity in Paradise.” “ Pardon.” 

‘‘ Yes, the blessed companionship on high.” And all was 
still. The Prophet was dead.^ 

Thus passed this strange fascinating personality. To 
the end he was the same curious combination of spiritual 
desires and worldly ambitions. In his own lifetime he 
did what no man before or since has ever done — ^he united 
Arabia in the bonds of a new brotherhood. Carlyle, in 
his Heroes and Hero Worship, pays a fine tribute to 
Mohammed : 

He stood there face to face with them [the people] ; bare, 
not enshrined in any mystery : visibly clouting his own 

^ See Hughes’ Dictionary of Islam, p. 385. 



THE MAN MOHAMMED 


81 


cloak, cobbling his own shoes ; fighting, counselling, 
ordering in the midst of them : they must have seen what 
kind of a man he was, let him be called what you like. 
No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a 
cloak of his own clouting. During three and twenty years 
of rough actual trial I find something of a veritable hero 
necessary for that, of itself. 

Mohammed did not himself conquer an empire, nor was 
he an apostle of the highest form of religion. He was head 
of a state as well as of a church. He was Csesar and Pope 
in one. In spite of opposition, trial, and persecution, he 
succeeded in laying the foundations of a nation, an empire, 
and a religion. His influence upon posterity must be left 
to later chapters, when we hope to see how an Arab mind 
was projected into the world at large, and how the world 
has reacted, and still does react, to the personality of this 
Arab of the Arabs. 

It will be seen from what has been already stated that 
it is impossible to portray the character of Mohanuned as 
a consistent whole : 

The truth is that the strangest inconsistencies blended 
together (according to the wont of human nature) through- 
out the life of the Prophet. The student of the history will 
trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of 
Mohammed were first tinged and then gradually debased 
by a half-unconscious self-deception, and how in this 
process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile — 
these opposite principles often co-existing even as active 
agencies in his conduct.^ 

His ambition for reformation was intermingled with his 
own desires for self-indulgence, and once Mohammed had 
persuaded himself that he was the favoured of heaven, he 
justified every flagrant breach of morality by revelations 
from God condoning his actions. It is the sanction of 
these things in the Koran, the supposed revelation of God 
to man, that has given authority for their repetition in 
^ Sir Wm. Muir, Life of Mohammed, p. 535. 



82 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


every age since the Prophet died. The glorification of 
evil done in the name of God has affected the character of 
races and people wherever Islam has penetrated. These 
influences are with us to-day in the Koranic sanctions of 
polygamy, divorce, slavery, and kindred evils, and it is 
only fair to say that for this heritage the ultimate responsi- 
bility must rest upon the shoulders of Mohammed 



CHAPTER III 

THE ORIGINS AND SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 

Legend clusters round Mohammed’s nocturnal journey to 
heaven in the twelfth year of his mission. Only a single 
verse in the Koran records an event which perhaps more 
than any other has gripped the imagination of Moham- 
medan people. In the Koran (chap. 17, v. 1) we read, 
“ Praise be to him who carried his servant by night from 
the Masjid-ul-Haram (the Mecca temple) to the Masjid-ul- 
Aksa (the Temple at Jerusalem).” An account of this 
visit, supposed to have been related by Mohammed him- 
self, is given in the Mishkatu-l-Masabih, where the Prophet 
tells how he was sleeping on his side when the angel Gabriel 
came to him and cut out his heart and washed the cavity 
with Zemzem water and then filled his heart with faith 
and knowledge, after which a white animal was brought to 
him to ride upon. Mohammed mounted, and was carried 
first to the lowest heaven. In answer to a summons from 
Gabriel the door was opened, and a voice said, “ Wel- 
come Mohammed, his coming is well.” Here the Prophet 
saw Adam and saluted him. He then ascended to the 
second heaven, where he says he saw Jesus and John. In. 
the third heaven he met Joseph, and in the fourth Enoch, 
in the fifth Aaron, and in the sixth Moses. He relates how 
he saw Moses weeping, and he asked him why he wept, and 
he said, “Because one is sent after me of whose people more 
will enter Paradise than mine.” In the seventh heaven he 
met Abraham, who said, “Welcome, good son and good 
Prophet.” In the seventh heaven he saw a wonderful 
tree with leaves like elephant’s ears, and four rivers, two 
of which were the Nile and the Euphrates. Instructions 



84 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

were given him that his people were to pray Afty times a 
day, but on the advice of Moses, who declared that no man 
could pray fifty times a day, he returned to the Lord, and 
eventually prayers were reduced to five times a day. 
Moses advised that this should be reduced, but the Prophet 
was ashamed to ask for a further reduction, and accepted 
the command which he communicated to his people. As 
he passed down through the heavens a crier called, ‘‘ I 
have established my divine commandments and have made 
them easy to my servants.” The Prophet awoke in Mecca 
and related his adventure. 

Many Moslems regard this as merely a vision, but there 
is no doubt that the majority accept it as the true story 
of a literal journey to heaven. 

However we may interpret it, the story will help us to 
understand the Moslem view of the source and origin of 
Islam. Moslems claim that their faith came direct from 
heaven. The Koran was sent down by God through the 
agency of the angel Gabriel to Mohammed. The Koran is, 
therefore, believed to be a divine book, eternal in origin, 
every word of which is kept in the records of heaven upon 
a preserved table. God is the one and only source of Islam, 
and all that the Koran contains was a divine communica- 
tion into which no human element entered. 

In spite of this tradition we must study the sources of 
Islam from a historical point of view if we are to under- 
stand the system of theology and ethics built up by 
Mohammed and accepted by many millions in the world 
to-day. It is certain that there are many sources of Islam, 
other than the celestial one ; we will therefore begin our 
- investigation with Arabia in the days of Mohammed. 

The period of history prior to the mission of the Prophet 
is known in Islam as “ the time of ignorance,” and Moslems 
generally paint these days in the blackest possible colour 
in order to throw into relief the beneficent work of Moham- 
med. Arab life, then as now, can be roughly divided into 
that of the Bedouin or nomad Arabs, who wander over the 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 85 

desert, and the town Arabs, who are for the most part 
traders and merchants. 

Civilization among the nomadic tribes has always been 
of a low order, and in the seventh century tribe was at 
war with tribe. Blood feuds were an everyday occurrence, 
much as they are now. The people were pagans and 
idolaters. Female infanticide was a cruel custom in 
common practice. Polyandry and polygamy were both 
common. Slavery was an accepted custom. But other 
forces at work in Arabia were fast undermining the poly- 
theism of the more serious-minded Arabs. The gods were 
becoming more and more nebulous, and the age-long belief 
in one supreme God was stirring the thoughts of Arabs 
in both town and desert. The idea of one God (Allah) 
did not begin in Arabia with Mohammedanism, for the 
word Allah was in common use hundreds of years before 
Mohammed’s time, and in the darkest days of ignorance 
the Arabs always believed in a Supreme Deity who was 
propitiated through the mediation of lesser gods. These 
deities were intercessors, and names as familiar in Moslem 
lands as Abd Allah were common in the time of ignorance. 
Poetry flourished, and Mohammed used verse as the style 
of his revelations, a medium most calculated to win the 
approval of the Arabs. The Black Stone of Mecca (kissed 
by Moslem pilgrims to this day) was a pagan symbol, and 
the Kaaba was the shrine and home of the Arab gods. 
Mohammed thus took over into Islam the Meccan temple, 
together with polygamy, slavery, and many other entirely 
pagan customs. He forbade infanticide and polyandry, 
and he swept away intermediary gods and established the 
worship of Allah. He emphasizes in the Koran that no 
intercessors are needed until the Day of Judgment. There 
can be no doubt that the customs, rites, and beliefs of the 
Arabs were an important source of Islam. 

In towns such as Mecca there were many links with the 
outside world, and trade routes from north and south 
converged on the sacred city. The merchants of the West 



86 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

found a good market for their wares in Mecca, and the 
Hedjaz was not then the isolated country that it is to-day. 
Its doors were thrown open to the world, and there was 
intercoiuse between Mecca and many great cities which 
brought into it the thought and religion of the word beyond 
Arabia. 

The Jews were a powerful factor in the peninsula. 
Many tribes of Jews were settled around Medina. They 
were known as “ The People of the Book.” Mohammed, 
therefore, in beginning his mission had in the Jewish con- 
ception of religion a model to hand with a great historical 
background which was easy of adaptation. Mohammed 
from the first saw that he could not introduce an entirely 
new faith, and he bore witness to the faith of Abraham and 
the truth of Judaism. He studied the beliefs, customs, 
and stories of the Old Testament, and thus developed the 
theory of one world-religion of which he was the final 
Prophet. The Koran abounds in stories of Cain and Abel, 
Abraham, Moses, and all the outstanding characters of the 
Old Testament. The tales in the Talmud also were taken 
over wholesale. Jewish teaching had paved the way for 
Mohammed, and Arabia was ready for a monotheistic 
movement. Jewish theology lies at the back of much in 
the Moslem conception of religion. More than this, the 
very claim that Mohammed makes for the eternal Koran, 
“ Truly it is the glorious Koran on a preserved table ” 
(Koran, dhap. 85, v. 21-22) is taken from a Jewish tradi- 
tion, and refers in its original source, not to the Koran at 
all but to the Law of Moses (Deut. x. 1-5). 

So far we have seen Islam adapting itself under Moham- 
med to Arab ways, taking over pagan customs and rites, 
and for its religious history accepting Jewish tradition and 
embellishing it in Moslem colours. We now turn to a third 
source of Islam — Christianity. A knowledge of the Chris- 
tian faith was diffused throughout Arabia through the 
Christian churches on the borders of the country. Syria 
to the north was Christian, and the Church spread down 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 87 

through Transjordania and along the Gulf of Akaba. The 
commerce between Syria and Mecca was considerable, and 
with trade came Christianity. East of the Jordan many 
monks and hermits lived an ascetic life which attracted the 
attention of the Arabs; It was part of the policy of 
Byzantine Rome to support strongly the Christian Arabs 
on the confines of the Hedjaz, since they acted as bulwarks 
against any possible Persian encroachments. In Mecca 
itself Christianity had been established, and Mohammed 
came into direct contact with Christian Arabs, from whom 
he learned much about Christianity. 

Another Christian district was Mesopotamia to the north- 
east, and a proportion of this Church at least was composed 
of Arabs. The Church, through missionary activity before 
the time of Mohammed, had spread into Arabia along the 
Persian Gulf, and Yemen to the south was a Christian 
country. South Arabia enjoyed a high state of civilization, 
beyond anything attained there since that time under 
Mohammedanism, and this was in “ the time of ignorance ” 
— to use the Moslem phrase. The Hedjaz, therefore, was 
ringed round with Christian influence, and a considerable 
knowledge of Christianity spread into the interior. Poetry 
contemporary with Mohammed speaks of Christian rites 
and ceremonies, fasts and festivals. The monks are 
mentioned as those “ devoted to God.” Christianity is 
the source, direct or indirect, of many words and ideas 
used by Mohammed. Prayer, prophets, a holy book, 
revelation, praise, were ideas not unknown to the Arabs ; 
they had been learned by them from Jewish and Christian 
sources. 

The position, therefore, in Arabia in the seventh century 
was that non-Arab religious influences were powerfully at 
work. The traditional pagan religion was breaking up 
through contacts with the outside world. New ideas were 
permeating the thought of Arabia. The old gods were being 
discarded in favour of a monotheistic form of worship. 
There appears to have been a spirit of unrest and search 



88 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


for a more satisfying faith.* Everything goes to show 
that there was in the seventh century an atmosphere of 
religious thought out of which Mohammed developed his 
monotheistic faith. What won Arabia to his allegiance 
* was not the originality of his ideas, for they were mostly 
borrowed from other sources, but the intense conviction 
j with which he preached them. He pondered deeply over 
the religious problems of his day and won to his side the 
finest Arabs of the land. His political genius enabled 
him to harness this religious revival to a world-wide 
political scheme, and as his plans developed he accom- 
modated his faith to the demands of political expediency. 
He was never over-scrupulous in details, but he adhered 
strictly to the great purpose of his life and ever pressed 
forward to the accomplishment of his great task. It is 
true then, as Edwin Arnold puts it, that “ Islam was born 
in the desert with Arab Sabseanism for its mother and 
Judaism for its father ; its^fostef-ifiMe was Christianity.” 

To sum up, we see Islam as an eclectic faith with Pagan, 
Jewish, and Christian elements ; Mohammed produced 
little that was original or new. Yet his mind was quick, 
versatile, and original. His originality lay in his welding 
of these various cults and creeds into a whole, with a 
system so Arab in type as to win and hold the Arab mind 
ever since. Much of what he absorbed from the Jews and 
Christians had become part of Arab thought, and Moham- 
med probably imbibed it from Arab sources ; thus it 
would have an Arab flavour and complexion. His claim 
to be an Arab prophet also was original. The one thing 
fundamental to Mohammed’s mind was his idea of God. 
It would be a mistake to imagine that Mohammed began 
his mission with the full concept of his religion, or that his 
ideas of God were anything like complete at first. What 
started him on his career as a prophet may have been the 
impression that the end of the world was near, as some 
writers claim. But there was a mystical vein in Mohammed 

^ See Ulam — A Challenge to Faith, S. M. Zwemer, pp. 3-6. 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 89 

which makes it much more likely that the tremendous fact 
of the unity of God so stirred him that for a time all else 
appeared insignificant. Then the practical side of the man 
asserted itself, and Mohammed began to see himself as a 
prophet ruling as God’s vicegerent on earth. The unity 
of God was his inspiration, and the unity of Arabia his 
ambition. 

The Prophet’s conception of God takes shape in his 
mind as a God of mercy and goodness. This is a marked 
eharacteristic of his teaching in the Mecca days. Amid 
the persecutions and difficulties amongst his fellow-towns- 
men Mohammed falls back upon the thought of God’s 
goodness. He encourages himself and his flock by the 
thought of God’s help : “ Thy Lord hath not left thee nor 
forsaken thee. Verily the end will be better than the 
beginning. The Lord will give thee thy satisfaction.” 
Such a verse reminds one of many similar parts of both 
the Old and New Testaments. Mohammed grasped a 
great truth, and on it appealed to his people to recognize 
with gratitude the good hand of God. 

Out of this idea of goodness sprang the thought of social 
and moral reforms. Thus we find immediately following 
instructions about almsgiving and kindness. Mohammed 
had felt poverty as a boy, and he enjoins charity towards 
the orphan and the beggar. Other evils are attacked, 
and he denounces false balances and the abuses and in- 
justices of the day. “His conscience was no doubt 
formed by that Jewish-Christian atmosphere which had 
penetrated Arabia.” ^ The doctrines of Heaven and Hell 
gradually began to play an important part in his preaching. 
Those who opposed him were threatened with the wrath 
of God and the fires of hell. It is not necessary to believe 
that this was simply a ruse to compel adherence to his 
cause. His whole conception of God had made the idea 
of judgment a part of his moral consciousness and the fear 
of punishment never left him. His pathetic plea for pardon 

^ The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment^ by R. Bell, p. 82. 



40 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

when he was dying bears witness to this. The doctrine 
of prayer followed natxiraUy in his mind. He must have 
seen Christian worship and synagogue services, and he in- 
stituted set periods of prayer, borrowing at the time the 
Christian word scdat for prayer. It was not until later 
that he developed the five fixed daily hours of prayer. 

The next great influence in his life was the fact that the 
people around him who had a religion that appealed to him 
were people of a book. He believed that their faith was in 
essentials the same as the creed which he sought to estab- 
lish. They had a book. He must have a book too. He 
had, therefore, no hesitation in adopting large parts of the 
Jewish and Christian beliefs. Stories from the Bible were 
taken over and passed on as part of his new and divine 
revelation. Where differences and discrepancies between 
his version and the accounts given by Jews and Christians 
were pointed out to him he accused his opponents of having 
falsified the Scriptures. There is an opportunism about 
this that shows a certain practical cunning from quite an 
early stage in his mission. Discrepancies were made a 
further proof of his Divine message. Jews and Christians 
had altered the Holy Book, and God had sent down to 
him the true version, abrogating all that went before, and 
bringing light and guidance to the faithful. The Bible 
and apocalyptic literature were a veritable mine of informa- 
tion to him. The denunciations of prophets of old, the 
horrors of hell, and the delights of heaven were depicted 
in the warm colouring of Arab poetic fancy, and when he 
was questioned his one answer was, “God hath revealed it.” 

Mohammed, as we have seen, adopted the Arabic word 
Allah as the name for God. To this he added many 
epithets to define the attributes of God, until there were 
ninety-nine names, including the Merciful, the Com- 
passionate, the Holy, the Mighty, the Forgiving, the 
Glorious, the Truth. Of all these attributes the greatest 
stress is placed upon the mercy of God. Abu Hurairah 
tells that Mohammed declared, “ Verily there are ninety- 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 41 

nine names of God, and whosoever recites them shall enter 
into Paradise.” Allah to the Moslem is not only the 
Supreme Being. He is the absolute Semitic despot who 
guides aright and leads astray, who decrees the fate of all 
men, closing the minds of those who cannot believe and 
opening the hearts of others to the faith. The sovereignty 
of God dominates all thought, and although mercy is 
taught in almost every page of the Koran yet it is only 
mercy to the believer. Towards unbelievers there is 
always the threat of terrible punishment. The overthrow 
of Pharaoh at the Red Sea gave Mohammed the clue to 
what he believed to be God’s attitude to His people. The 
children of Israel became a conquering people who were 
first separated from the infidels by their call from Eg 3 q)t, 
and who, after obeying the Divine command, saw the 
destruction of their enemies at the Red Sea and marched 
forward to the overthrow of the unbelievers in the Promised 
Land. This story probably served to illustrate Mohammed’s 
own experience. He was called to separate himself in 
the flight from Mecca to Medina. The battle of Bedr was 
his Red Sea victory, when the Meccans, a thousand strong, 
were defeated by a small Moslem force of only three 
hundred. From the day of this battle Mohammed looks 
out upon the promised land of conquest and victory for 
Islam. Islam from now on begins to take deflnite shape. 
Mohammed regards himself as a prophet in the same sense 
as Moses, with a like mission, and a corresponding intimacy 
with God. 

In the Medina period Mohammed seems to have acquired 
a more accurate knowledge of Jewish literature. Abraham 
is now placed at the head of a great list of prophets. Islam 
is the faith of Abraham — ^anterior therefore to both 
Judaism and Christianity. It stands on a basis of its own 
and with a special commission to lead Jews and Christians 
back to Abraham, from whose message they have sadly 
departed. This new policy cleared the air for Moslems, 
many of whom had only a confused idea of the relative 



42 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


positions of other faiths, and it enabled Mohammed to 
rebut the charge that he was seeking to set up a new faith 
contradictory to what had been given in previous revela- 
tions which he himself had professed to accept as genuine. 
The new phase of Islam seen in the Medina period did more 
than this. It brought with it a new attitude to both 
Judaism and Christianity. Islam had passed out of the 
atmosphere of simple faith in God into the more worldly 
zone of a political religion with Mohammed as a theocratic 
ruler of a new religious state without frontiers. The 
world was divided between this state, over which God ruled 
through his vicegerent Mohammed, and the rest of man- 
kind, who were unbelievers, and who were to be subdued — 
slain if necessary — but at all costs brought within the 
Moslem fraternity. Opposition to Mohammed was, there- 
fore, opposition to God, and unbelief was stubbornness of 
heart against the revealed will of God. This gave Islam 
a colour that has ever since marred its work in the world. 
Mohammed called upon the Jews to believe, and when they 
refused he turned on them in savage fury. The direction 
in which a Moslem turned in prayer was changed from 
Jerusalem to the Kaaba at Mecca. The Jewish fast on the 
Day of Atonement, which had at first been adopted, was 
changed for the Fast of Ramadan. The Beni Kainuka, a 
Jewish tribe, was stripped of all its wealth and goods and 
driven out of Medina. Other Jewish tribes were slaugh- 
tered and their ehildren made slaves. Denunciations of 
the Jews followed in rapid succession, and Islam hardened 
into a system whieh stood for enmity against all who 
refused allegiance to the Prophet. 

It is difficult to say whether Judaism or Christianity 
influenced Mohammed most. For a time he seems scareely 
to have distinguished between the two. The fifth chapter 
of the Koran, entitled “ The Table,” was given at Medina, 
and contains many references to the Christian faith. 
” They are infidels who say verily God is Christ the son of 
Mary,” says Mohammed. In the same chapter we read, 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 48 

“ We also caused Jesus the son of Mary to follow the foot- 
steps of the prophets, confirming the law sent down before 
Him, and we gave Him the Gospel, containing direction 
and light.” He returns again to the doctrine of the 
Trinity and declares, “ If they refrain not from what they 
say, a painful torment shall surely be inflicted upon such 
of them [the Christians] as are unbelievers. Christ, the 
son of Mary, is no more than an Apostle.” Apocryphal 
tales of Christ having spoken while a babe in the cradle 
and of His having given life to clay birds are related. The 
miracles of the healing of the blind and the raising of the 
dead are mentioned. The chapter is called “ The Table ” 
because in it is told a story of how God caused a table to 
descend from heaven to Jesus. The table, so comment- 
ators tell us, was spread with cakes of bread, fish, and flesh. 
When the people ate of the food they were healed of 
infirmities and sicknesses. Some writers say that the table 
descended daily for forty days. Around this story fabulous 
tales have been woven, but it puzzles us to know what 
Mohammed had in mind. Both Rodwell and Sale see in it 
a reference to the Sacrament. If so, it but shows how very 
unreliable and scanty was Mohammed’s knowledge of 
Christianity. The Prophet’s early references to Christians 
are, on the whole, friendly, but with his accession to power 
his attitude changed. He had thundered forth “ Obey 
God and obey me,” but the Christians did not respond, and 
their lot was much the same as that of the Jews. 

His main attack on the Christian faith was directed 
against the Crucifixion, which he repudiated. He de- 
veloped the old Gnostic theory that it was a substitute, 
“ like unto Christ,” and not Christ Himself who was 
crucified. When Christians boldly faced him with New 
Testament accounts of the Cross he roundly accused them 
of having corrupted the Scriptures^ To back up this 
assertion he takes the promise of Christ that He would 
send the Holy Spirit, and by twisting the Greek word. 
Paraclete (the Comforter) he makes it read “ the praised,” 



44 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

which he asserts is the meaning of the Arabic word Ahmed, 
another name for Mohammed. The promise of the Holy 
Spirit is thus turned into a prophecy of the coming of 
Mohammed. This, he claimed, proved that the Chris- 
tians had altered the Scriptures in order to reject God’s 
messenger — Mohammed. Thus the breach widened be- 
tween Mohammed and the Christians and ended in open 
war : 

Fight against those who do not believe in God. 

The Jews say that Ezra is the Son of God and the 
Christians say that the Messiah is the Son of God. God 
fight against them ! How they are deceived. 

As Mohammed’s life drew to a close his super-tribal 
scheme of religion was taking shape as an independent 
faith, standing on its own foundations, with its own creed 
and revelation, and in open hostility to Judaism and 
Christianity. Mohammed bequeathed to his people a 
national unity, a common faith, a political and social 
system, and a code of laws dealing with anything from the 
creed to be said down to laws of vengeance, marriage 
regulations, inheritance, and property. To the Moham- 
medan, this and a great deal more is summed up in 
the one word Islam, a word that has many derivations : 
it means to be tranquil or at peace, and the Moslem 
connotation is “ to surrender oneself to Him with whom 
peace is made.” The devout Moslem interprets the 
principles upon which the Islamic system is based as 
follows : 

(1) The belief in the unity, unmateriality, power, mercy, 
and supreme love of the Creator ; 

(2) Charity and brotherhood among mankind ; 

(8) Subjugation of the passions ; 

(4) The outpoming of a grateful heart to the Giver of 
all good ; and 

(5) Accountability for human actions in another exist- 
ence. 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 46 

The grand and noble conceptions expressed in the Koran 
of the power and love of the Deity surpass everything of 
their kind in any other language. The Unity of God, His 
Immateriality, His Majesty, His Mercy form the constant 
and never-ending theme of the most eloquent and soul- 
stirring passages. The flow of life, light, and spirituality 
never ceases. But throughout there is no trace of dogmat- 
ism. Appeal is made to the inner consciousness of man, 
to his intuitive reason alone.^ 

This is no doubt the idealism of a devout mind, but 
plain facts modify the picture considerably, and tone down 
the colours. 

The creed, “ There is no God but God, and Mohammed 
is the Apostle of God,” is certainly dogmatic. Simple and 
brief, it has echoed down the centuries as a challenge to 
all other creeds, and in it is contained not simply a belief 
in God, but in all that Mohammed believed God to be. It 
is not only faith in a prophet, but a demand of absolute 
submission to that prophet in all that he taught as the 
representative of God on earth. Thus to accept the creed 
involves an acceptance of the whole Islamic system. 

Moslem belief in God means faith in God the Self- 
existent, the Causer of causes, the Infinite. He is Al- 
mighty, Omniscient, Living. Nothing happens except by 
His will and power, whether it is good or evil. He does 
whatever He pleases. This involves the doctrine that 
God has a right to punish whom He will, whether they 
have done wrong or not. The basis of this idea lies in 
the sovereignty of God, which dominates such attributes 
as mercy and love. Sovereignty is, therefore, despotic 
power uncontrolled by any attribute. God shows mercy 
when and if He wills to do so, but He is under no com- 
pulsion to do so. 

The Moslem doctrine of God thus differs from the Chris- 
tian conception, which defines God in His essence as love. 
Where Islam proclaims “ God is great ” the Christian 

^ The Spirit of Islam, by Sayed Ameer Ali, p. 226. 



46 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


affirms “ God is love.” For this reason the whole idea 
of Fatherhood is absent from the Moslem idea of God. 
The many attributes of God in the Koran are beautiful 
in expression, but their force is lost by the overshadowing 
thought of ungoverned despotic power, which operates 
in terms of these attributes only if God wills to do so. 
The relationship of God to mankind is that of master and 
slave as opposed to the Christian idea of father and 
children. 

While modern Moslems deny that fatalism is a basic 
idea in the Moslem conception of God, yet the absolute 
decree of good and evil has always been recognized as an 
article of belief. Moslems generally accept the doctrine 
that everything, good and evil, is fixed and recorded on a 
preserved tablet. This has been a much-disputed doctrine 
among Moslem theologians, but the average Mohammedan 
accepts the Koranic statement literally — ” All things have 
been created after a fixed decree ” — and fatalism is a 
marked characteristic of Moslem peoples. In Egypt, when 
the cotton worm was threatening seriously the whole crop 
of the year, the government issued strict orders for the 
destruction of the pest, but many Moslems at the time 
refused to obey the instructions, and said, “ The worm is 
from Allah, He will remove it when He wills.” Fatalism 
held the people so strongly that they feared to collect 
and destroy the worm lest they should displease God by 
seeming to oppose what He had sent. 

This attitude of mind, which leaps over all other causes 
to the Cause, and consequently throws the blame for 
everything in life upon God, may fairly be said to be the 
orthodox view for which Mohammed himself is directly 
responsible. Anyone who has lived in a Moslem land 
knows how familiar are the words Kadar and Tdkdir. “ It 
is fated ” is an everyday expression. “ God guides whom 
He pleases and misleads whom He pleases.” Where the 
conception of God in Islam differs from the Christian con- 
ception is in the fact that if all things, good and evil, are 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 


47 


decreed from before the birth of a man it makes God the 
source of moral evil, and denies that the cause of evil is to 
be found in the misuse of the human will. 

Next to belief in God a Moslem must believe in angels. 
There are four principal angels in Islam : Gabriel, the 
messenger of God — the angel of the revelation: Mikail, 
the friend and guardian of the Jews ; Azraiil, who will 
sound the last trump ; Azrael, the angel of death. Every 
believer also is said to be attended by two angels — one to 
record his good deeds, and the other his bad deeds. Two 
angels, Munkar and Nakir, are the examiners of the dead 
in their graves. Mohammed had a profound belief in the 
reality of the spirit world. In battle he declared that 
thousands of angels aided the Moslem armies (Koran 8, 120), 
They intercede in heaven for people on earth. The throne 
of God is supported by eight angels who bear it up (Koran 
69, 17). Angels act as guardians of hell. One of Moham- 
med’s curious misconceptions of Christianity is connected 
with the angel Gabriel. Mohammed confounded him with 
the Holy Spirit, and seems to have thought that, because 
Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit and the angel Gabriel 
came to her, the two were the same person. The New 
Testament references to the Holy Spirit as the guide and 
inspiration of the apostles may have led Mohammed, 
through this confusion of thought, to make Gabriel the 
angel of his revelation. 

In addition to a belief in angels, Moslems have been 
taught by the Prophet of a whole world of spirits called 
genii. A chapter in the Koran is devoted to this subject. 
These genii are a mixed multitude — some good and some 
evil. On one occasion Mohammed preached to a company 
of genii, and records his experience in the following verse, 
“ Say : it hath been revealed to me that a company of 
genii listened and said — Verily we have heard a marvellous 
discourse.” Mohammed took over the whole mythology 
of the desert in regard to spirits. The change in doctrine 
which he made was to reduce the genii from the position 



48 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


of gods to that of created beings essentially different in 
nature from Allah ; but the whole world of spirits, good 
and evil, was maintained with its attendant magic and 
charms to protect the believer. 

Readers of the Arabian Nights look upon the stories of 
the practical jokes and tricks of the genii as fairy tales, 
but few perhaps realize how deeply embedded in the system 
of Islam is this belief in genii. These people are said to 
be a pre-Adamite race who still inhabit the world. They 
are of both sexes, and take many shapes and forms, such 
as serpents, wolves, and scorpions. Any one who has 
travelled across the desert of Sinai is familiar with the 
whirlwind desert storms, when the sand swirling in a great 
pillar sweeps across the desert. This the Moslems believe 
to be the genii in flight. 

The system of Islam is thus strangely built up of a 
Jewish monotheism mixed with Christian elements, the 
fatalism of the desert, and the mythology of a nomadic 
people. 

Coupled with the belief in God and spirits is the belief 
in the Last Day. Mohammed from the first was deeply 
moved at the idea of a Judgment Day, and the Last Day 
is variously described in the Koran as a “ Day of Separa- 
tion,” a “ Day of Reckoning,” and a “ Day of Awakening.” 
Around this was built up an eschatology partly Jewish and 
Christian in origin. Two angels of death visit every one 
immediately after burial to examine them. These are 
Munkar and Nakir. According to the answers given, the 
deceased’s soul either wanders between earth and the 
lower heavens, or remains in a state of sleep till the last 
trump, or lives in the crops of birds of paradise, or, as some 
think, dwells as a white bird under the throne of God. 
Although Moslems frequently speak nowadays of a spiritual 
resurrection only, yet the generally accepted belief — and 
it is based on much teaching in the Koran — is that of a 
physical resurrection. Mohammed believed that the body 
decayed in the grave with the exception of one bone ; and 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 


49 


borrowing from a Jewish source, he taught that on the 
Last Day God would send rain for forty days which would 
cause the bodies to sprout again. The Jewish tradition says 
that it is dew, not rain, which will impregnate the earth. 
Many signs are mentioned in Islam of the Last Day. The 
following are some of them : 

The decay of faith among men ; people of humble degree 
will be given the highest positions; adultery will be rife, 
civil strife, revolutions, much distress, and the people of 
Persia and Syria will refuse to pay their alms. Following 
these general signs come more definite indications of the 
end of the world : such are the coming of the Mahdi ; of 
the Antichrist with the letters K F R on his forehead, 
letters which stand in Arabic for Kafir, an unbeliever ; 
the second advent of Jesus Christ, who is to appear near the 
mosque at Damascus, to marry, beget children, die, and 
be biuried in Medina ; the great beast ; and the coming 
of Gog and Magog. These signs culminate when the sun 
will rise in the west ; then the Kaaba will be destroyed, 
the Koran forgotten, and unbelief will prevail. 

At the Judgment a bridge will be placed over the fires 
of hell. It will be as narrow as a single hair and sharp as a 
Sword. The true believers will experience no difficulty in 
crossing, but the infidels will fall into the fire below, for the 
unpardonable sin in Islam is idolatry. Chapter 75 of the 
Koran deals fully with the subject of the resurrection. It 
is also mentioned in chapters 81, 82, 88. It is easy to see 
from the foregoing that this eschatology is by no means 
original, but is borrowed practically in its entirety from 
Jewish and Christian sources. 

The second half of a Moslem’s religion is the religious 
practices enjoined in Islam. For the regulation of religion 
there are five duties imposed upon all — prayer, alms, | 
fasting, pilgrimage, and the repetition of the creed. To j 
this, some add a sixth — ^the Jihad (holy war). It is doubt- i 
ful whether it should be placed in the same category as 
prayers and fasting, but nevertheless it is one of the laws 
o 



50 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

of Mohammed. The commands in the Koran are explicit 
and clear. 

The fact that the world was divided into two parts — the 
House of Islam and the House of War — is evidence of the 
real design behind the law of warfare upon the imbeliever. 
It is popular in modern Moslem literature to-day to assert 
that the jihad was only for the defence of Islam and never 
for purposes of aggression; but if this is so, Abu Bekr, 
the first caliph after the death of Mohammed, must have 
violated the commands of the Prophet when he sent his 
armies to ravage the outer world and to conquer Persia, 
Palestine, and North Africa. Some Moslem writers tell us 
that a jihad cannot be made unprovoked, but the followers 
of Mohammed based their practice on the example of their 
leader, who carried his sword through Arabia in a series of 
unprovoked attacks upon peaceful tribes. 

The object of a jihad was world-conversion to Islam, and 
history shows the extent to which Islam went in compul- 
sion and force in seeking to preach the unity of God. As 
an incentive to the warriors, four-fifths of all the spoils 
of war were divided among those who had taken part in 
the battle, and among the spoils were reckoned the captives. 
Wives of enemy captives were handed over as concubines 
to the victors, even when their husbands were living, and 
slavery was the lot of prisoners captured in war. Moslem 
writers to-day would have us believe that these things are 
not so. In defence, they point to the evils of Europe, to 
the divorce courts of the West, and to the fact that slavery 
existed in Europe until comparatively recent times. 
What they fail to see is that while these evils are done in 
violation of Christian ideals and precepts, in Islam they 
are carried out by the commands of Mohammed himself, 
backed by his own example, and strengthened by what is 
claimed to be the will of God revealed in the Koran. 

Islam at the Prophet’s death was a complete system 
ready to be projected into the non-Arab world. It stood, 
as we have seen, upon the twofold foundation of the 



SOURCES OF MOHAMMED’S FAITH 61 

unity of God and the prophetic office of Mohammed. Its 
theology, largely borrowed from other sources, included 
a belief in heaven, hell, angels, resurrection, and a 
catastrophic end of th? world. Moslems were given 
certain rules of life regulating prayer, alms, fasting, etc., 
and they were fired by a great enthusiasm, through the 
appeal for a holy war, to go out and conquer the world. 
We will now seek to trace the fortunes of this faith as it 
makes its impact upon other races and creeds, and as non- 
Arab cultures make their contribution to Islam in the 
wider atmosphere of the world beyond Mecca. 



CHAPTER IV 

EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 


Some years ago I was travelling through Trans jordania, 
and early one morning made the ascent of the reputed 
Mount Pisgah, where Moses stood and viewed the Pro- 
mised Land. The point we reached stood some 5000 feet 
above the Dead Sea level. In the clear morning air there 
opened before us a wonderful panorama. Looking north 
we could see Hermon, snow-clad and glistening in the sun ; 
the whole of the Sea of Galilee lay stretched out before us, 
and we could trace the River Jordan from the point where 
it flowed out of the Sea of Galilee the whole way along its 
course until it emptied itself in the Dead Sea. Looking 
west, we clearly made out with the naked eye houses 
in Samaria ; in the distance could be descried the tower 
of the Russian Church on the Mount of Olives, while to 
the south lay the Dead Sea with range on range of the 
mountains of Moab running down into Arabia and the 
Hedjaz, the home and heart of Islam. The whole of 
Palestine seemed to be literally at our feet. As I stood 
on the moimtain-top I pictured to myself the small Arab 
army that had started out in the year in which the Prophet 
died to conquer the world. Abu Bakr, the first caliph and 
the immediate successor of Mohammed, had sent it forth 
to pit its strength against Byzantine Rome. The Arab 
troops had marched north from Medina, through Trans- 
jordania, and passed over the very country we were 
surveying from Pisgah’s heights. There is something 
sublime in the faith of Abu Bakr who, with a small army 
of about four thousand warriors, set out to subjugate the 
whole world to Allah. How near his ambition came to 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 58 

succeeding this chapter will show. This army was a 
body of free-spirited men who had never yielded to any 
outside authority, and had unbounded confidence in both 
their leaders and their cause. They met an organized 
Roman force, but they encountered people everywhere 
chafing under Byzantine misrule. No such thing as 
popular resistance was made against the Arabs. In fact, 
people hailed their coming as liberators from a detested 
rule. The Christian Arabs of Transjordania joined the 
Mohammedan force, and in some cases the Jews made 
common cause with them. Within a very short time the 
Arab invasion developed into a social revolution against 
the established order of government. The choice given 
by the Arabs to non-Moslem people was one of three 
alternatives — either to pay tribute, or embrace Islam, or 
die. This rapidly turned the movement into a religious 
revolution with a new intellectual vitality. 

The River Yarmuk flows down from the Hauran plain 
through a deep gorge along which to-day the railway 
travels from the south end of the Sea of Galilee to Dera. 
It was in this gorge that the Roman army with its back 
to the river fought a great battle against the Arabs in the 
year 634. The odds were heavily against the followers of 
Mohammed. They were outnumbered ; they had none of 
the splendid equipment the Roman troops displayed. But 
they fought with a glittering vision of victory or Paradise 
before them ; numerically they were insignificant, but 
every man counted, and with irresistible force they swept 
the Roman troops back into the river, which soon became 
choked with the dead. Defeat turned to disaster, and the 
rout that followed became a horrible massacre. In a 
single battle Syria and Palestine fell under the Moslem 
sway. The Romans evacuated the country, falling back 
towards Constantinople. The road to Egypt and North 
Africa was open. Islam had sprung into being almost 
unnoticed by the rest of the world. No one took seriously 
the man in Medina who, calling himself a prophet, 



54 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

demanded allegiance from the kings of the earth ; but firom 
the battle of the Yarmuk onwards the world recognized 
in Islam a force with which it must reckon. 

It is only by taking a long sweep of history that the 
true significance of the nomads of the Arabian peninsula 
appears. The reserve of forces held within the great 
stretches of desert has often been unnoticed until suddenly 
a swarming period has come and these men of Semitifi 
blood have swept forth north, south, east, and west in 
conquest. The Canaanites (2500 b.c.), who were Semites, 
long before Abraham occupied the coasts of Palestine 
after some such migration from the inhospitable desert. 
The Amorites who, under Hammurabi, swarmed through 
what is now Mesopotamia and founded the Babylonian 
Empire (S500 B.c.), were of the same stock. The Assyrians 
were another settled branch of the Semitic people. The 
sixteenth dynasty in Egypt was founded by the Hyksos 
or Shepherd Kings, who appeared suddenly out of the 
desert and in one sweep captured the civilization of 
Egypt and ruled the country for five hundred years 
until about 1600 b.c., when they were driven out of the 
country. The invasion of Palestine by the children of 
Israel was another such Semitic movement. These 
swarming periods left their mark on history ; great 
empires and dynasties arose out of them : but the Arab 
always left behind in the desert a remnant, which in 
course of time generated new Jbrces for further conquests. 

Nomad Arabs ‘seldom attack a settled population 
wantonly, but only under necessity caused by drought 
and the failure of pasturage. The struggle for existence 
in the desert is a struggle for water. It has generally 
been economic pressure that has compelled these move- 
ments of the population in the direction from which relief 
could most easily be found. The usual process was for a 
tribe or tribes to be impelled forth by the haunting dread 
of drought, and onee in motion they kept going until 
their impetus had exhausted itself and they had found a 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 


5fi 


people they were strong enough to dislodge. Such a 
migration occiarred in the early seventh century from 
north-western Arabia, and the tribe ended their trek in 
Tunis. It is significant that this happened shortly before 
the great expansion of Islam : “ in fact the irruption of 
Arabs from the Arabian peninsula, though set in motion 
by the religion of the Prophet, was the result of a, long 
process of desiccation for which there is no lack o f evx- 
aence”.’’’"^ Sufficient nolicenSas perliaps not been given 
fo^tlie fact that, while the religion of Islam provides the 
immediate motive for the overflowing of Arab life into the 
world beyond, yet the root cause was the age-long one — 
the drying up of great breeding places in Arabia and the 
consequent lack of pasture. Drought spelt starvation, 
and yet, strange to say, drought has been one of the 
primary causes throughout history for the raising of 
Semitic people from a nomadic desert life to imperial 
power. The Moslem expansion, which is a good illustra- 
tion of this, was the last of such movements on any large 
scale that the world has so far witnessed, and the great 
empire built up out of it was simply history repeating 
itself. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and Palestine all felt in 
their turn the consuming fire of the desert peoples, who for 
centuries appeared to be stagnant and without ambition, 
until suddenly the smouldering fire burst into flames, and 
kingdoms “ half as old as time ” came tottering to the 
ground before the resistless march of these wild sons of 
the desert. 

Mohammed had stirred the imagination of these people, 
and they, with little, if any, knowledge of their ancestors’ 
history, obeyed the same instincts. Now we see them, 
having inflicted a severe defeat upon their enemies, boldly 
marching forward to the conquest of lands which had for 
centuries been the home of art, culture, and civilization* 

People in the surrounding countries regarded them as 
uncivilized barbarians. The Arabs gave no sign of any 

> A Study of Baeet in the Ancient Near Baet, William H. Worrell, p. 6. 



66 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

latent dangerous energy, and Heraclius, the Byzantine 
emperor, at first puzzled and contemptuous, was forced 
back into Asia Minor and finally compelled to admit that 
he had met a force that could with impunity defy the 
power of Byzantine Rome. Abu Bakr struck the key- 
note of Islam when he said in his opening address to the 
army about to march north : “ When a people leaveth off 
to fight in the ways of the Lord the Lord casteth off that 
people.” Like locusts these Arabs swarmed over neigh- 
bouring countries ; column followed column until whole 
tribes issued forth to fight for the faith and settled east 
and west in the rich lands of the then civilized world. 
The free spirit of the desert proved stronger than the 
organized autocracy of Constantinople. 

Abu Bakr’s reign was a brief two years, and shortly 
before the victory on the Yarmuk he passed away, having 
nominated Omar as his successor. 

Omar was a strong man with a great reputation for just 
dealing. In the early days of Mohammed’s preaching he 
had been a bitter opponent of Islam, but his conversion 
came suddenly, and none can doubt the sincerity of it. 
He had shared the hardships of the early days in Medina, 
and in the triumphs of Islam he had borne a leading part. 
Success had never spoiled him, and when he was called to 
be caliph he was still the same simple-minded, generous- 
hearted, and humble disciple of his Prophet. 

One of Omar’s first acts was to order the advance of 
the army through Syria to Damascus ; in December 684, 
this, the oldest city in the world, was invested and taken 
by storm after protracted fighting. Half of the total 
wealth of Damascus passed to the conqueror. All who 
refused to become Moslems were taxed. The churches 
were divided, half of them being turned into mosques and 
the other half left to the Christians. The cathedral of 
St John the Baptist was jointly used at first by both 
Moslems and Christians, but after a time the Christians 
were ejected, the building passed into Moslem hands, and 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 5T 

has been a mosque ever since. All Syria now passed under 
the rule of Islam ; but while the Christian Bedouin as a 
rule became Moslems the town people remained loyal to 
their old faith. The leader of the Arab army now tmned 
his attention to Palestine; in a short time the country 
was subdued, after little opposition, and the army ap- 
proached Jerusalem, a city of many sieges. The Patriarch 
sued for peace, but stipulated that the Caliph should come 
in person to receive the capitulation of the city. This 
Omar consented to do, and he travelled from Medina to the 
gates of Jerusalem, where he was met by the Patriarch 
and conducted through the city. The following terms of 
capitulation were drawn up and signed by the Caliph ; 

This is the security which Omar, the servant of God, the 
commander of the faithful, grants to the people of Jeru- 
salem. He grants to all security for their lives, their 
possessions, and their children, their churches, their 
crosses and all that appertains to them in their integrity, 
and their lands and to all of their religion. Their churches 
therein shall not be impoverished nor destroyed nor 
injured from among them ; neither their endowments nor 
their dignity ; and not a thing of their property, neither 
shall the inhabitants of Jerusalem be exposed to violence 
in following their religion, nor shall one of them be injured.^ 

A signihcant sign of the early influence of western 
civilization upon the devout Arab was seen when Omar 
arrived at Jerusalem. He was met by a mounted guard 
of Arab leaders all dressed in the richest Syrian garments. 
At the sight of this change Omar’s soul was stirred. The 
simplicity of life practised by the Prophet had gone in a 
moment. With something of the spirit of Joshua at 
Jericho, he cried, “ Is it thus attired ye come to meet me, 
changed in two short years ? ” — and he flung gravel at them 
in contempt of their finery. The keynote of these early 
caliphs was desert simplicity. They saw the danger to 
their cause as well as to the faith in an assimilation of the 
‘ Quoted in TAe Preaching of I$hm, T. W« Arnold, p. 61. 



58 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Arabs to their new environment. They strove to pre- 
serve in its purity the faith and life of Islam ; but en- 
vironment was too powerful a factor even for so great- 
hearted a man as Omar, and from this time onward Islam 
adapted itself more and more to the customs of the 
countries it subdued. S)nria passed under Moslem rule, 
but Islam in turn came under the influence of outside 
thought. This idea will be developed in later chapters, 
but it is of interest to note here in passing that in the 
recent revival of Arab Islam the Wahhabis have sought 
to make this note of simplicity the dominant one in their 
efforts to return to pure and undefiled Islam. 

By the year 640 plans were complete for the invasion of 
Egypt. Amr, one of the generals in Palestine, finding life 
irksome as conquest was followed by inaction, begged 
leave of the Caliph to invade the valley of the Nile. His 
objective was Alexandria, because it was the granary for 
Constantinople, and the seat of commerce and art. When 
we remember the great armies of Greece and Rome that 
had marched to the conquest of Egypt we are amazed at 
the intrepidity of an Arab who, with only four thousand 
men, set forth to cross the desert of Sinai and to conquer 
a country with a population of about eight millions. Amr 
was undaunted. The fear of defeat never entered into 
his reckoning ; but Omar the Caliph, with wise foresight, 
saw the danger and sent strong reinforcements which 
brought the fighting strength up to fifteen thousand. 

The route followed was the same as that of the Turkish 
Moslem army in 1915, when an attempt was made to 
capture Egypt. But in the days of Amr no Suez Canal 
intervened to form a barrier, and where the Tiurks were 
checked in the Great War, Amr marched on to Belbeis, a 
frontier town on the east of the Delta. The Arab invasion 
coincided with the betrothal of Armenosa, the beautiful 
daughter of the Prefect of Upper Egypt. She was on 
her way to be betrothed to Constantine, the heir of the 
Byzantine emperor, when she heard of the Moslem 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 59 

advance, and she at once fell back upon Belbeis, which she 
fortified and defended stoutly. Amr at length captured 
the town; and the treasures of the bridal party, including 
the bride herself, fell into his hands. The girl was treated 
with all honour and sent back to her father, and the Arabs 
moved on to the capture of Alexandria. The city was 
strongly fortified, and the sea-coast was open to the Greeks, 
through which they could pour in reinforcements. The 
resistance was obstinate ; but during the siege Heraclius 
died and the necessary help was not forthcoming from 
Constantinople. The Greek troops weakly took to their 
ships and abandoned the city, which after nearly a year’s 
defence capitulated. The Arab army next marched south 
and established its headquarters near Memphis, at what 
is now Old Cairo. 

Egypt having been subdued, Amr now decided to push 
his conquests south into Nubia and next through Tripoli. 
The army operating up the Nile soon came into conflict 
with the Nubian archers, who put up a stubborn defence 
of their country ; but in the end the Moslems triumphed, 
although it is recorded that they did not take a single 
prisoner, for the Nubians fought to the death. The Arabs 
penetrated as far south as Dongola, at that time a Chris- 
tian country. In the treaty then concluded the founda- 
tions of the Moslem slave-trade in Africa was laid. Three 
hundred and sixty slaves of both sexes, it was stipulated, 
were to be delivered annually to the Moslem governor of 
Assouan ; none of them were to be aged people or children 
below the age of puberty. The actual words of the treaty 
are worth quoting : 

In the Name of God. . . . This is a treaty granted by 
the Emir Abdullah ibn Saad to the Chief of the Nubians, 
and to all people of his dominions, a treaty binding on 
great and small among them from the frontier of Assouan 
to the frontier of Aiwa. ... Ye people of Nubia, ye shall 
dwell in safety under the safeguard of God and his apostle, 
Mohammed, the prophet whom God bless and save.-. . , 



60 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Ye shall take care of the mosque which the Moslems have 
built in the outskirts of your city and hinder none from 
praying there. Ye shall clean it and light it and honour 
it. Every year ye shall pay three hundred and sixty head 
of slaves to the leader of the Moslems of the middle class 
of slaves of your country, without bodily defects, males 
and females ; but no old men nor old women nor young 
children. ... If ye kill a Moslem or an ally or attempt 
to destroy the mosque the Moslems have built or withhold 
any of the three hundred and sixty head of slaves then we 
shall revert to hostilities until God decide between us, and 
He is the best of umpires.^ 

This treaty continued in force for six hundred years, 
and gradually the whole of Christian Nubia accepted the 
Moslem faith. 

Egypt and the northern parts of the Sudan having been 
conquered, a leaven of Arab settlers was introduced, and 
a slow but prolonged process began for the Islamizing of 
this country. 

While the Arabs with one force were conquering the 
Near East another army was moving eastward into Meso- 
potamia with Persia as its objective. Abu Bakr, the 
Caliph, before his death sent Khalid, the Sword of God as 
he was called, to assume supreme command of the army 
now seeking to subdue ancient Chaldea. The Moslems, 
about eighteen thousand strong, moved to the Euphrates 
and there they came into conflict with the Persian army. 
To the Persian general, Khalid sent the following message : 
“ Accept the faith and thou art safe ; else pay tribute, 
thou and thy people ; which if thou refusest thou shalt 
have thyself to blame. A people is already on thee loving 
death even as thou lovest life.” The Persians, like so 
many others, made the mistake of under-estimating the 
strength of their desert foes and suffered in consequence 
a crushing defeat. Khalid now pushed forward, capturing 
fortified places and potting the garrisons to the sword. 

1 Quoted in A History of the Arabs in the Sudan, H, A. Macmichael, 
toL i. p. 158. 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 


61 


The country was ravaged, the men slaughtered, and 
the women driven into captivity. At last Persia was 
thoroughly aroused. A vast army assembled to meet the 
Arabs, and now, in a.d. 688, the Moslems were harder 
pressed than ever before. • Khalid vowed that if he were 
victorious the blood of his enemies should flow in a crimson 
stream. The Persians at length gave way and Khalid 
fulfilled his vow. Fugitives were rounded up in thousands 
and brought into the camp. Whole battalions were be- 
headed and their blood flowed through the dry bed of a 
canal until it actually tiumed the mill-wheel near by and 
ground the corn for the army.^ 

By 684, after further severe fighting, the Persian power 
was crushed in the Euphrates valley. Hira was captured 
and became the Moslem headquarters. Thus in two short 
years the whole of Iraq had passed under Moslem rule. 
When Omar became Caliph he at once deposed Khalid 
from his command in the east and sent him to fight in 
Syria. The Persians, encouraged by Khalid’s withdrawal, 
were roused to further efforts, and at length succeeded in 
inflicting a severe defeat upon the Arabs. In the follow- 
ing year more fighting took place ; the fresh troops from 
Arabia re-established Moslem supremacy, and the whole 
country was occupied without hindrance. The Persians, 
however, were not going to surrender the country without 
a further struggle. In a.d. 685 was fought for five days 
the famous battle of Cadesiya. The fortxmes of war 
varied from day to day, but the triumph of the Arabs was 
in the end complete. The royal capital of Medain was 
captured and the booty won was beyond anything the 
Arabs had ever before seen. From the junction of the 
Euphrates and the Tigris down to the shores of the 
Persian Gulf the rule of Islam was established. Omar 
now pressed forward to the capture of Persia. Victory 
followed victory until the coimtry was subdued. Islam 
offered many privileges to those who accepted the faith, 
^ See William Muir, Tiu OiUiphaU, it9 Bise, Decline, and FaU, pp. 55-6. 



62 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

and the Zoroastrians came over by degrees to the new 
religion of Mohammed : but the cultured Persian, as we 
shall see, in his adoption of Islam brought a new element 
into the faith. 

While the Arab army was invading Egypt, Omar the 
Great Caliph was assassinated, while in the mosque of 
Medina at prayers. The wounded man was carried to his 
house in a dying condition. His last thoughts were for 
the preservation of Islamic unity, and he nominated four 
men from whom a successor was to be chosen. His reign 
had been a little over ten years, and he died as he had 
lived in a simple humble faith in Gk>d. 

At this stage we may pause to sum up what the past 
ten years had meant to the fortunes of Islam. The two 
greatest caliphs that Islam was ever to see had passed 
away. Twelve years had gone since the small Arab army 
had set out from Medina to conquer the world for 
Mohammed. It is clear from this first phase of Moslem 
expansion that Islam had not materially changed the 
character of the Arabs. The caliphs played upon their 
predatory instincts and in turn suffered from their free- 
handed lawlessness. Omar was the first of a long line of 
caliphs to be assassinated. The leaders of Islam sought 
to discourage and repress innovations. The thought of 
the people was carefully guided along clearly defined 
channels, but in spite of every effort to maintain Islam 
free from outside influences already there were signs that 
the great world beyond Arabia was influencing the life, 
habits, customs, and thoughts of the Arabs. 

In these early days the caliphs themselves never led 
their armies to battle, and one of the most notable 
features of this movement is the fact that Arabia could 
produce out of the desert not one or two but many bom 
leaders of men. Khalid, “ the Sword of God,” Abdullah, 
Amr, and others were all soldiers, not by training, but by 
inherent qualities of leadership. 

Casualties in battle and overwhelming odds against 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 68 

them never deterred the Arabs from attempting the 
seemingly impossible. In the fighting in Syria the 
Moslems foimd themselves confronted by a Greek army 
seventy thousand strong, while the Arabs were divided 
into smaller forces and scattered. Khalid writes to Amr 
to come to his help : 

In the name of the most merciful God ; from Khalid to 
Amr, health and happiness. Know that thy brethren 
design to march to Aiznadin, where there is an armjr of 
seventy thousand Greeks who purpose to come against 
us. As soon as this letter is delivered to thy hands come 
with those that are with thee to Aiznadin, where thou shalt 
find us, if it please the Most High God. 

The terms offered by the Greeks to buy off the Arabs 
must often have been tempting; but the prospect of 
gold and riches was not allowed to interfere with their 
triumphant march. These things they knew would be 
theirs if they gained the victory. On one occasion the 
Moslem army was met by a venerable old Greek who 
sought to induce the Arabs to withdraw from S 5 n:ia on 
payment of a large sum as indemnity. But Khalid, in- 
dignant at such a bribe, replied : 

Ye Christian dogs, you know your option : The Koran, 
the tribute, or the sword. We are a people whose delight 
is in war rather than peace, and we despise your pitiful 
alms since we shall be speedily masters of your wealth, 
your families, and your persons. 

In the twelve years since the death of Mohammed we 
have seen Palestine and Syria with the fair city of Damascus 
and the holy places of Jerusalem fall under Arab sway. 
We have watched these same men cross the Sinai desert 
and capture Egypt and the wealth of Alexandria. We 
have followed their rapid advance for a thousand miles 
up the Nile into Dongola and have witnessed the begin- 
nings of the conquest of North Africa. A new empire had 
sprung up to the west, while to the east Mesopotamia had 



64 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


surrendered to the Moslem forces. The Arabs might well 
have considered that they had now occupied as much 
territory as their limited resources could hold. Their aim 
was not merely conquest but consolidation ; but they did 
not pause to consolidate. They left governors and troops 
in each conquered area, and pushed on to still further 
achievements for Islam. 

The first ten years of Islamic expansion were creative 
years in history. The two great world powers of Byzan- 
tine Rome and Persia had suffered untold losses and had 
been overwhelmed with disaster. Their fairest and 
richest lands had been wrested from them to form an Arab 
empire. The Moslems too had suffered many casualties, 
and, considering the meagre population of Arabia, it seemed 
as though exhaustion must ensue very soon. The con- 
trary, however, happened. An army pushed its way 
along the North AMcan coast. This new venture coin- 
cided with the commencement of the reign of the third 
Caliph, Othman, in a.d. 645. The Arabs advanced upon 
Carthage with an army of about forty thousand men. At 
Tripoli they were met by the Prefect Gregory with a force 
computed to be a hundred and twenty thousand strong. 
Gregory’s daughter advanced to the battle with her 
father, and with bow and scimitar won the admiration of 
the Arabs. The Moslem general offered her, with a rich 
present, to the man who slew her father in battle. The 
Prefect was slain by Zobeir, who carried off the sorrowing 
daughter to Medina, where he announced to the Caliph 
the victory of the Moslem army.^ 

Meanwhile, other Arab detachments were engaged in 
campaigns in other fields. The Turks to the west of the 
Caspian Sea were attacked, but with varying fortunes. 
The Arabs in Persia, although victorious, suffered heavily. 
A whole army was lost in the snow around Kerman, and 
only two men survived to tell the tale. 

The losses suffered by the Arabs were alarming, but still 

^ 8e^ Qibbon» Decline and Fall of the Roman Emj^ire, vol. v. pp. 354-5. 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 65 

fresh hordes poured forth from Arabia to turn disaster into 
victory. In Syna. the army was attacked by fresh troops 
from Constantinople ; the Arabs, however, not only held 
their own but swarmed over Asia Minor, captured Armenia, 
and actually reached the Black Sea. The Moslems now 
turned their attention to the sea, and, fitting out a fleet 
manned by Eg 3 rptians and Arabs, they sailed for Cyprus. 
The island was easily captured, and the ships returned to 
Alexandria with spoil and captives. The Greeks, frightened 
at this new incursion of the ubiquitous Arabs, gathered 
a fleet of five hundred ships and set out for Alexandria. 
The Arabs, nothing daunted though vastly inferior in 
numbers, grappled with the Greek navy and drove it off. 

Mohammedan prestige stood at its highest in the out- 
side world, with Islamic armies scattered from Kerman in 
Persia to the Black Sea and from Armenia to Carthage. 
But the Arabs, who had held together in a remarkable 
way up to now, began to break up into factions. The old 
tribal jealousies reappeared, and storms gathered about the 
head of Othman the Caliph. A conspiracy was formed, 
and tumults broke out in Medina which led to civil war ; 
and Othman, after a reign of twelve years, was slain in 
his own house. 

Ali was now elected caliph, but he soon found that the 
disintegrating forces of tribal factions were more easily 
roused than allayed, and rebellions followed. Islam was 
rent in twain. Moslem fought against Moslem, and in the 
Battle of the Camel the faction of Ali fought against those 
who sought to avenge Othman. Ten thousand Moslems 
were slain in about equal numbers on either side. Ali 
now transferred his headquarters from Medina to Kufa, 
and the seat of government which, from the days of 
Mohammed, had been in the sacred city, passed from it 
never to return again. Conquests in the non-Arab world 
were brought to a standstill while Arab fought against 
Arab and two rival caliphs, Ali and Muavia, struggled for 
supremacy. 

£ 



66 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


If the first twelve years after the death of Mohammed 
ended in complete triumph for the cause of Islam and the 
founding of a new empire, the second twelve years closed 
upon a broken Islam with the empire split up and at war 
within itself. Egypt broke away from the cause of Ali, 
and Amr its governor went over to his rival. Troubles 
continued to dog the reign of Ali imtil a.d. 661, when, 
like two of his predecessors, he was assassinated after a 
reign of only four years, which were surely among the 
most momentous in Moslem history. The murder of Ali 
instead of ending the strife made confusion worse con- 
founded. He left two sons, Hassan and Hussein, neither 
of whom had any ambition to be caliph. Muavia now 
asserted his claim to be caliph ; Hassan, who had been 
appointed, abdicated in his favour, and a few months 
later was poisoned. Muavia now ruled as caliph with 
undisputed power, and once more Arab energies were 
turned towards conquest. A Moslem force penetrated 
Afghanistan and captured Kabul. The war in North 
Africa, that had been suspended for twenty years, was 
recommenced, and the Arabs carried the sword to the 
Atlantic Ocean. At the same time a formidable force 
crossed Asia Minor and the Bosphorus in an attempt to 
capture Constantinople. For seven years the Moslems 
tried to reduce the city to submission and finally abandoned 
the effort as hopeless. Muavia had established his head- 
quarters at Damascus and founded a new dynasty, known 
as the Oma)^ads. By appointing his son as successor he 
kept the caliphate in his family, breaking in this way the 
precedent set by the Arabs at the death of Mohammed, 
who selected Abu Bakr as first caliph for his fitness and 
not because of family claims. 

Space will not permit of any detailed account of the 
Omayyad dynasty, which continued until a.d. 750, and 
then came to an ignominious end. The story of this 
himdred years is one of intrigue and treachery, of division 
and discord, of civil strife and tribal feuds. Moslems 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 67 

must often have been puzzled at the strange change in 
events. A people, united and loyal, embark upon a great 
enterprise, and within the first twenty years they are 
divided among themselves and actually at war with one 
another in spite of the boasted brotherhood of Islam. 
Why ? When Omar rebuked the Arabs at Jerusalem for 
their finery he saw that if the Arab faith was not pre- 
served in its purity Islam could not present a united 
front to the world. As years passed it became increas- 
ingly apparent that the countries occupied by Moslems 
were reacting upon the conquerors, and that the Islamic 
faith could not be kept in its primitive form outside 
Arabia. 

The Omayyad dynasty was marked by the cruel murder 
of Hussein, Ali’s son, at Kerbela in 680. The Omayyads, 
fearing any possible rival, slew the last of Ali’s sons, hoping 
thus to make secure the caliphate for their family. As a 
matter of fact they sowed the seeds of their own destruc- 
tion. The claims of the family of Ali to the caliphate 
now took definite shape, and the great schism in Islam of 
the Shiahs dates from this period. 

It was during the Omayyad dynasty too that the first 
invasion of Europe took place. Akbar, as we have seen, 
had reached the Atlantic Ocean, but there he was checked 
for lack of boats. Spurring his horse into the sea, he 
exclaimed, “ Great God ! if my course were not stopped 
by this sea I would still go on to the imknown kingdoms 
of the West, preaching the unity of Thy Holy Name and 
putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship 
any other gods but Thee.” ^ 

It was not until the year 716 that the Arabs were 
able, for the first time, to cross over to Europe. Strangely 
enough, the initiative in the first instance came from 
Europe itself. A local dispute in Spain led Count Julian 
to seek an interview with the Arab general ; the Arabs 
were invited by a Spaniard to invade Spain 1 Ships were 

^ Quoted in Gibbon’s Declint and Fall of Roman Empire^ vol. v. p. 358. 



68 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

provided by this rebel, and the Caliph consented to a small 
expedition crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to explore. 
The attack on Europe was therefore only a raid. The 
Arabs plundered Algeciras and then returned to Africa. 

A revolt in Spain the following year gave the Arabs 
the opportimity they sought ; an army of seven thousand 
under Tarik landed near the rock, ever since known as 
Gibraltar, or Gabel Tarik, the rock of Tarik. King 
Roderick gathered his forces to drive out the invaders, 
and the battle lasted for a whole week. The Moslem 
victory was complete. Roderick fled, and was never 
heard of again. Spain, divided by inter-dissensions and 
without a king, was at the mercy of the Arabs. Toledo 
and Cordova fell. Fresh troops were sent over from 
Africa, and the Arabs began seriously to invade Europe. 
Some years were spent in consolidating the victories in 
Spain, and in a.d. 782 the Moslems overran the land as far 
as Poitiers. At this critical juncture, when it seemed as 
though nothing could prevent the Moslems from capturing 
France, Charles Martel came to the rescue. The armies 
met between Poitiers and Tours. The fate of Christen- 
dom was in the balance. The Arabs fought with all their 
wonted bravery and stubbornness, but they were entirely 
routed — ^and Europe was saved. This was one of the 
decisive battles of history. It was fought exactly one 
hundred years after the death of the Prophet. 

The Moslems had made a victorious march for more 
than a thousand miles from Gibraltar to the banks of the 
Loire ; Arab detachments had penetrated as far as Lyons. 
The French population had fled in panic before the hordes 
of dusky desert warriors. The churches had been stripped 
of their treasures by the Arabs and burnt to the ground. 
Islam seemed to be on the crest of a new wave of victory 
when they were defeated at Tours. What would another 
drive of a second thousand miles have meant to Europe ? 
It would have carried the Moslems to the borders of 
Poland or to the Highlands of Scotland. The Arab fleet 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 60 

that proved so irresistible to the Greek ships in the Medi- 
terranean might have sailed up the Thames^ and as Gibbon 
puts it, “ Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would 
now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits 
might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity 
and truth of the revelation of Mohammed.” ^ 

From such a calamity were Europe and Christendom 
delivered by the skill and bravery of one man, Charles 
Martel. In this battle the nations of Asia, Africa, and 
Europe met in conflict for much more than the conquest 
of Spain. They strove for the domination of the world. 
Two rival civilizations and two opposing religions were 
locked in deadly combat. Whatever the issue had been 
the history of the world would have been altered. Had 
Islam prevailed western nations would have passed to an 
Arab domination, and the inertia that always followed 
Arab rule would have condemned Europe to a sterile 
decay and left it blighted by the dead hand of an illiterate 
and reactionary Islam. It is no mere flight of fancy to 
imagine that in this event, instead of St Paul’s Cathedral 
and Westminster Abbey, we should have had great 
mosques with minarets instead of spires, and the muezzins’ 
call to prayer in the place of church bells. Had Islam 
prevailed it is doubtful whether there would have been 
any British empire at all. The overthrow of Islam saved 
Europe and altered the whole history of the world. The 
Arabs never resumed their attacks on France, and they were 
rapidly driven out of the Pyrenees. 

It might have been expected that so great a conqueror 
would be amply rewarded by a grateful Church and state. 
But Charles Martel had had to apply the revenues of the 
bishops and clergy to meet his war commitments and to 
pay his soldiers. His bravery was soon forgotten and his 
sacrilege alone remembered. When, later on, his tomb 
was opened, spectators declared that they were frightened 
by a smell of fire and the vision of a horrible dragon. 

^ Quoted in Qibbon*0 Decline and Fail of the Roman Empire, vol. v. p. 3W. 



70 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Later generations were entertained with stories of Charles 
Martel,, the damned, in the abyss of hell 1 

A limit had now been set to the expansion of Islam in 
the West. For the next seven himdred years the Arabs 
held Spain and it was not until towards the end of the 
fifteenth century that Spain freed herself from the Moslem 
yoke and drove the enemy out of the country. 

The Arabs, although they ruled in Spain for so long, 
never succeeded in assimilating the Christian population 
to Islam. Thousands became Moslems ; yet when the 
invaders were expelled, they left behind no permanent 
religious force. In other countries Islam changed the re- 
ligion, language, and customs of people, and the new faith 
became indigenous, so that it flourished whether Arabs 
ruled or not. In Spain this was not so, and the Spanish 
people in course of time threw off all allegiance to Islam 
and returned to the Catholic fold. The reasons for this 
are many. The popularity of the Moslem rulers had been 
only superficial ; although they often conferred great bene- 
fits upon the country by their wise administration and 
patronage of learning, yet Arab rule was a despotism which 
could only be maintained by the sword. 

Even if the Spaniards had not by force of arms re- 
conquered Spain the Moorish empire must have fallen to 
pieces, as Moslem empires in other lands have done, from 
internal dissensions. Thus on the pages of history, as 
regards Moslem communities and nations, it is written 
large, “ There is no brotherhood in Islam.” ^ 

The wars in Spain were a race conflict, and the Spanish 
pride of race made Moslem assimilation ultimately im- 
possible. The Church of Spain from the first day of in- 
vasion had been the implacable foe of Islam. When the 
Moslems were overthrown it was the Church that rooted 
out all traces of Islam. Moslems were given the choice of 
baptism or exile, and as late as 1610 half a million of them 

^ Moiltm Ccnqu€9t$ in Sjtain, Canon Sell, pp. 98-9. 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 71 

were deported to Africa and other lands. One feature that 
has characterized the Spanish Church has been its prosely- 
tizing zeal. When Islam in Spain was strongest and 
apostasy was punishable by death, there was a steady 
stream of Christian martyrs who preached the Christian 
faith to Moslems as well as to Christians, and even in those 
days of Moslem ascendancy there were converts from the 
Arabs to Christianity. ^ 

When at the end of the fifteenth century Granada was 
captured, the Archbishop’s first thought was for the con- 
version of the Moslems, and he began to learn Arabic with 
a view to preaching to the Arabs. The Gospels were 
translated into Arabic. There was a virility about the 
Christian faith in Spain that withstood the shock of Islam, 
and ultimately succeeded in winning back those who in 
the days of Arab rule had left the Christian fold. 

The defeat of the Arabs was followed by internal strife 
in the Arab ranks. Jealousies split a once united Islam 
into factions, each of which adopted a colour as its badge. 
The Fatimites took green, the Omayyads white, and the 
Abbasides black. The members of each party wore tur- 
bans of their own colour. From the Indus to the Euphrates 
the Moslem world was convulsed by the wars between the 
whites and the blacks. The bitter struggle was con- 
ducted with a merciless cruelty until the glory of the 
Omayyad dynasty was submerged in defeat and slaughter. 
The victorious Abbasides exterminated the most distant 
branches of the Omaj^ad family, and a new era dawned 
upon the fortunes of Islam. 

With the passing of the Omayyad dynasty we mark the 
limits of the Arab empire. Hitherto the caliphs had been 
acknowledged throughout the Moslem world, and a sem- 
blance of unity had been maintained ; but with the advent 
of the Abbaside dynasty in 750, Arab unity was lost for 
ever. The Arabs in Spain and Africa, with the exception 
of Egypt, refused allegiance to the new caliphs. Islam was 
1 Cf. Moelem Conquests in Spain^ Canon Sell, p. 41. 



72 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


broken into fragments, and cotmtries under Moslem rule 
became independent. The Omayyads had owed their 
position to the support of the Syrians and Arabs, and the 
Abbasides overthrew them with the help of Persia and 
Khorasan. 

The Abbasides transferred the seat of authority from 
Damascus to the newly founded city of Baghdad, and with 
the growing Persian influence many changes came into 
Islam. The culture of Persia made itself felt and softened 
the hard and rigid attitude of Arab Islam. 

One of the first acts of the new Caliph was to invite all 
members of the 0ma3ryad family to a banquet in Pales- 
tine. About ninety persons attended it under a promise of 
amnesty. In the middle of the feast a signal was given 
and every guest was slain. Horrible cruelties were per- 
petrated, and resistance to the new regime was stamped 
out by wholesale slaughter and massacres.^ 

The Abbaside dynasty ruled in Baghdad from a.d. 750 
to 1258. The old Arab simplicity had now completely 
disappeared, and the courts of the caliphs were the wonder 
of the world. Their magnificent splendour and the munifi- 
cence of the royal bounty have been extolled in many 
books. Haroun al-Raschid surrounded himself with doc- 
tors, philosophers, poets, and men of learning, and the poor 
and indigent thronged around the palace to share in the 
daily largesse from the royal table. 

Intermittent fighting was kept up with the Greeks, but 
no further expansion through the Bosphorus took place. 
In the West the bounds had been fixed at the P 5 rrenees. 
The caliphate was the centre of every kind of intrigue and 
conspiracy. At one time or another there were rebellions 
in practically every part of the Caliph’s dominions, and the 
Arab method of solving a problem by assassination was the 
generally accepted rule. The remarkable thing is that in 
spite of internal troubles, few of the subject races suc- 
ceeded in gaining independence from Islam. The caliphs, 

^ Of. William Muir, The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline, and Fall, p. 440. 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 


78 


although beset by many difficulties, maintained most of 
their possessions intact, or they were held by some Moslem 
ruler who locally ruled with or without allegiance to 
Baghdad. Asia Minor made repeated efforts to drive out 
the Arabs but without avail. The old fighting qualities 
of the Arabs rose to the top in every emergency when 
danger threatened from outside. But a gradual decline 
of the martial spirit was noticeable in the latter part of this 
dynasty, and with the coming of the Mongols and the cap- 
ture of Baghdad in a.d. 1258, the great Abbaside dynasty 
came to an end. The Caliph and his family were put to 
death by the Mongols, and thus suffered the same fate that 
the founders of the dynasty had meted out to the Omayyads 
five centuries before. 

The caliphate, as it had been understood hitherto, now 
came to an end. As long as the desert Arabs ruled in 
Islam the purity of the faith was maintained. In the 
Oma 3 ryad times we have seen how social life and customs 
changed. The real Arab eventually returned to his fast- 
nesses in the desert. Troops were levied in Syria, and 
Islam adapted itself to its new environment. In the Abba- 
side period Persian influence affected both the spiritual 
and intellectual life of Islam. 

The caliphs were frequently men of toleration who 
sought to gather round them the best intellects of the day, 
irrespective of creed or race, but this cultural development 
in Islam must be left to another chapter. 

With the sack of Baghdad in 1258 another period of 
Moslem history comes to a close. Spain was now ruled 
by a separate caliph. North Africa was independent of 
caliphate control, though firmly held by the Moslems. 
Egypt was a separate power under the rule of a Shiah 
caliph of her own. Persia was a Shiah kingdom. The 
Moslem empire as a unity had passed away, and a new 
force had appeared which was destined to alter for all 
time the fortunes of Islam. The Mongols occupied Persia 
and Baghdad. The Turks invaded and captiured Asia 



r4 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Minor, and Egypt passed under the control of Turkish 
Mamelukes. The centre of power passed out of the hands 
of the Arabs to the Turks, so that henceforth the destiny 
of Islam was bound up with Turkey. Arabia sank back 
into its old isolation, and politically ceased to exist as a 
world power. It remained the religious home of the 
faithful, and the pilgrimage gave it a sanctity and a prestige 
of which nothing could rob it. The Arabs fell back into 
the same tribal system as in pre-Moslem days and the old 
predatory instincts prevailed as one Moslem tribe raided 
another. Islamic unity in Arabia disappeared altogether, 
and beyond the change of faith and a marked fanaticism 
among the people little was to be seen as the fruits of 
Islam. There was no cultural development. Illiteracy 
prevailed everywhere, and the country stagnated for the 
next seven hundred years. 

We have seen how the Moslem power under the first 
four caliphs was a religious-political association of Arab 
tribes knit together by a common faith, and fired with a 
zeal which found ample scope in the plunder and con- 
quest offered to those who fought in the way of the Lord. 
Islam could not have held the Arabs together had it not 
played upon the characteristics of the people and offered 
them untold wealth in the world beyond Arabia. The 
people who had eked out a precarious livelihood in the 
desert where starvation frequently faced them found them- 
selves the masters of rich lands. A survey of Arabia then 
and since shows how little this new wealth improved the 
lot of the Arabs. For a time life was easy and the people 
lived on their booty. But no development took place in 
Arabia. The country did not benefit by the sacking of the 
richest towns of Persia, and ultimately, when spoils were 
used up, the country was left as poor as ever. After one 
battle alone the booty was estimated at a million pounds 
sterling. Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, Africa, and Persia 
were stripp^ of their wealth. A survey these countries 
shows that while the Arabs, who accumulated enormous 



EMPIRE BUILDING IN ISLAM 75 

wealth, ultimately drifted into poverty again, yet the 
countries despoiled and robbed recovered, and within a 
few generations were again more prosperous than the land 
they had enriched. 

Islam, as we have seen, was checked at the Pyrenees in 
782. The Arabs failed to take Constantinople, and Asia 
Minor became the limits of expansion in that direction. 
The pagan tribes in Africa successfully prevented any 
penetration into the heart of the continent. It may 
truthfully be said that Islam in the first instance spread 
by conquest and not through the more peaceful method 
of religious propaganda. The lesson history teaches on 
the spread of Mohammedanism is that without the sword 
as an ally it is improbable that it would have ever been 
heard of much beyond the frontiers of Arabia. While it 
must be admitted that, after the early expansion of the 
faith through the “ Holy Wars,” Islam made millions of 
converts, yet it should not be forgotten that these con- 
verts were almost always made in countries where Islam 
was the dominant political and ruling power. With a 
Moslem ruler over a non-Moslem people pressure was 
brought to bear easily upon them, and the process of 
Islamization went on for centuries : but always where 
Islam had by wars and bloodshed previously established 
its authority. Alkindy, an Arab Christian at the court 
of Baghdad, in a.d. 880 challenged the Moslems to show 
a case of a single conversion to Islam for any reason 
other than that of some powerful material inducement. 

The spread of Islam through its victorious armies may 
make a glorious record from a military point of view, but 
the test of the faith depends upon what happened after- 
wards in the occupied countries. Did they take on a new 
lease of life and advance in civilization, art, or literature ? 
History shows that from the advent of Islam in any 
country a state of torpor and stagnation sets in. Where 
revival of learning took place it was due not to the Arab 
genius, but to the culture of the coimtry occupied. The 



76 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

reason for this is that Islam, however suited to Arabia, 
was not the faith that could raise the world. However 
much it met the needs of seventh-century Arab life it 
carried no permanent message suited to other ages or other 
lands. The history of Arabia shows too that in the home 
of the faith Islam has signally failed to raise appreciably 
the cultural and moral level of the people. The Arabs 
to-day, where untouched by western influences, are still 
living the same life, imchanged, as in the seventh century, 
and are very little less illiterate. 



CHAPTER V 

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 

We have seen Islam, Arab in origin and conception, pro- 
jected with amazing speed into the outside world. Moslem 
armies not only conquered these lands — ^they stayed to 
govern them. If the sword was freely used in battle 
something more potent than arms was at work. The 
Moslem invader took with him the Koran, a creed, a code 
of morals and ethics, and in fact a complete scheme for 
the government of the world in political, religious, and 
social matters. How great was the influence of Islam is 
seen by a survey of these same lands to-day. The whole 
of North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Meso- 
potamia, and Persia are predominantly Moslem, while India 
boasts a Moslem population of about seventy millions. 
The ancient Eastern Churches are but a fragment of the 
population, and in areas once entirely Christian, Moslems 
now outnumber Christians many times, and the minority 
question is almost entirely a Christian question. 

Many reasons have been given for this remarkable spread 
of Islam. In earlier days the usual answer given was that 
the sword was the compelling influence. There is no doubt 
that the sword did play a great part in the initial stages of 
this movement. Persecution and political pressure are 
put forward as reasons, and a case can be made out to show 
that the disabilities under which Christians and others lived 
under Moslem rule did lead many to adopt Islam. But 
this sort of reason does not completely explain why Islam 
not only spread but consolidated its gains in so many lands. 
The simplicity of the Moslem creed and the absence of 
theological metaphysics were a solid asset in the appeal 

n 



78 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

of Islam to popular imagination. The easy moral code 
which allowed polygamy, made divorce simple, and sought 
to regard human nature as it found it, and not as it ought 
-to be, made the new faith easy of acceptance to many who 
lived in a dissolute age. 

Sufficient emphasis has not been placed in this connection 
perhaps upon the appeal of Arab life, free and independent, 
to people who lived under a corrupt autocracy. The 
Arabs stood for liberty and self-government in their own 
land, and it was natural for other races to assume that they 
would stand for the same policy of independence in other 
lands too. The Constantinople government was decadent, 
inefficient, and corrupt, it is true, but it was also undiluted 
autocracy, and class hatred was a marked feature of the age. 
The subject races of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt hailed 
the Arabs as deliverers from the hated rule of the Greeks. 
The responsibility for the overthrow of the Christian Church 
lies not so much upon the sword of Mohammed as upon the 
worldly ecclesiastical leaders of the day. Many of the 
monasteries were a crying scandal. The clergy were them- 
selves corrupt, and they sided with the heads of a decaying 
empire against the poor and the oppressed. The schism 
between the Eastern Churches and Rome, the hair-splitting 
controversies over creeds and dogma, made men sigh for a 
simpler faith; and when Islam appeared it found a pre- 
pared soil for the seed of the Koran, a people discontented 
and ready to seize any chance to bring about a change of 
government ; it was small wonder that in many cases they 
made common cause with the invaders against their Greek 
rulers, who to them were more foreign than the Arabs. 

Later on, as people came to see that Arab democracy 
did not mean democracy for non-Moslem races too, they 
learned the true meaning of Islam. As Moslem law super- 
seded the old laws it became apparent that the new rulers 
were as autocratic as the old, and rebellion broke out, but 
it was then too late. The power of Islam was too strong 
to be broken, and there followed centuries of assimilatibn. 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 79 

during which period Islam sought to absorb the non- 
Moslem populations of the conquered countries. 

In the previous chapter we followed the story of the 
rapid expansion of Islam east and west ; we now turn 
to study the influence of Islam upon the thought, life, and 
culture of the peoples who suddenly came under Moslem 
rule. Islam won the allegiance of many differing races. 
It cut across age-long traditions, imposed, in some cases, 
a new culture upon people, changed religious beliefs ; so 
remarkable has been its influence that millions of people 
in conquered countries are to-day as proud of the name of 
Islam as if they had been bom under the shadow of the 
sacred Kaaba at Mecca. 

Foremost among the assets Islam had for the extension 
of the faith was the Koran. The Arabs valued the gift 
of eloquence and a perfect skill in the use of their language. 
Orators were men of great influence in Arabia, and in verse 
they appealed to the people on a crisis in their affairs. 
Mohammed made full use of his oratorical power. For his 
appeals he claimed a divine inspiration, and his exhorta- 
tions and commands were said to be dictated by the angel 
Gabriel. He spoke in prose, yet each sentence ended in 
a long rhyme, which in Arabic gives the Koran a charm 
entirely lost in its translation into other languages. At 
the Prophet’s death the Koran was partly an oral tradition 
and partly written in scattered fragments. A band of 
“ readers ” was formed whose duty it was to memorize the 
Koran. In the Battle of Yemama, a.d. 632 , many of 
these readers were killed, and Omar, fearing for the loss 
of the Koran, appealed to the Caliph to collect the sacred 
text into book form. 

A beginning was then made. Zeid Ibn Thabit, a man 
who had been amanuensis to the Prophet, was given the 
task of gathering all the material together ; he set to work 
to collect it “ from date leaves and tablets, on white stone, 
and from the breasts of men.” ^ Many of the chapters now 
^ See Sale’s Koran, p. 32. 



80 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

in the Koran were already in use in public services ; Zeid 
gathered all that he could find and formed a first manu* 
script of the Koran which was committed to the care of 
one of Mohammed’s widows, Omar’s daughter, Haphsa. 
By the reign of Othman (651) there were many and serious 
differences in the Koran as it was used in different parts 
of the Moslem empire, and the Caliph was mged to restore 
the unity of the divine book I ’ Copies of the Koran in use 
were called in, and a body of experts was appointed to 
collate these with the text in the custody of Haphsa. 

A one-standard text was now adopted, variations were 
reconciled and authoritative copies were written out and de- 
posited at Mecca, Medina, Kufa, and Damascus. All former 
editions were committed to the flames and the revised text 
was issued as the one and only Koran, verbally inspired 
and sent down by God to Mohammed as a light and a 
guide for Islam. 

In spite of the boasted divine origin of the Koran, the 
most outstanding feature of it is that it is a thoroughly 
human book. It throbs with the aims, ideals, hopes, 
passions, and faults of a very human man. It is because 
of this that the Koran when recited never fails to touch 
a chord in other human hearts. Family disputes are mixed 
up with teaching on the Deity. Contradictions are ac- 
counted for by the simple theory of abrogation. Through 
all are woven stories from the Old Testament which give 
substance to the book and form ready points of contact 
with peoples of other lands. Time and again Christian 
teaching is brought in, and the reverence paid by Moham- 
med to the Prophets and to our Lord gave many people in 
other lands the impression that, after all, there was not 
much difference between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. 
In considering the appeal of Islam to the Christian world we 
should remember that Mohammed acknowledged the Virgin 
Birth of our Lord, and His sinlessness. He accepted as a 
fact the record of miracles, and added to them from apoc* 
ryphal sources. He gave a place of great honour to the 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 81 


Virgin herself, and he took over much of the nomenclature 
of Christian theology. The central fact of Islam — ^the Unity 
of God — ^is derived from Jewish sources. The eclectic 
nature of Moslem theology gave the Moslems common 
ground in their impact upon other people, and there is no 
doubt that in the ignorant and divided state of Christen- 
dom of those days many people thought Mohammed to 
be rather a reformer of a Puritan type than the founder 
of a faith aiming at the overthrow of Christianity. 

A study of the Koran shows that there is little original 
thought and teaching in it. The bulk of it is from well- 
known sources. The originality, as we have seen, lies in 
the genius of the man who, out of the welter of creeds, 
produced a harmonious whole based upon pure mono- 
theism. It took on an Arab colour ; and the conception 
of Islam as a universal religion, with a social system of 
its own, is Arab through and through. It is a remarkable 
fact, as will be shown later, that it is just this Arab con- 
tribution to Islam that some in Moslem lands are seeking 
to shed to-day. The Pan-Islamic ideals are giving place 
to national self-determination, and the theocracy of 
Mohammed is being replaced by constitutional forms of 
government. 

What we see therefore projected into the outside 
world is a faith built up from Jewish, Christian, and 
other sources, clothed in an Arab garb, with an Arab 
political and social background. The background fre- 
quently faded from the picture, the Arab garb was often 
forgotten, and the non-Moslem world came into contact 
with a composite faith much of which was already familiar 
to the people. Islam as it expanded met the mystical 
East in Persia and India. It threw itself into the midst of 
Hellenic thought and life in the Near East, and in Europe 
it faced organized armies and a people just emerging into 
nationhood. In each case Islam found expression in dif- 
ferent ways. The mode of expression ultimately depended 
upon the culture of the people thus Islamized. 

F 



82 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The simplicity of the Arab caliphs was exchanged for 
the pomp, luxury, and wealth of eastern potentates. 
Caliphs drank wine in violation of the laws of the Koran. 
The empire of Islam fell to pieces, and in the Middle Ages 
Islam was, from a military point of view, weak and divided. 
It is a curious coincidence, and yet more than a coinci- 
dence, that in a period when the empire was divided and 
warring against itself there sprang up at the same time a 
new liberty of thought, a wide tolerance towards other 
religions, and a search for truth, whether it was to be 
found in Islam or not. 

As Islam took root east and west it established Arabic 
as a lingua franca for the new Moslem empire. There are 
few similar cases in history where a conquering army has 
so completely imposed a foreign language upon peoples of 
different races as to make it ultimately the mother tongue 
of the people whose lands had been captured. So much 
so is this the case that in a land like Egypt the people, 
both the Mohammedans and the Christians, to-day speak 
a common language ; but it is Arabic, not Coptic, and 
although Coptic is still used for liturgical purposes it is 
not understood by ’the people, and is to all intents and 
purposes a dead language. Arabic is spoken to-day 
throughout Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, as far south 
as the Kordofan Province, and along the North Africa 
coast to the Straits of Gibraltar. It is taught in the 
schools of Nigeria, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Madagascar, in 
India, and in China. 

Arabic is spoken to-day in some form or other by about 
seventy million people, and probably as many more know 
something of its literature in the Koran. 

In the Philippine Islands the first chapter of the Koran 
is repeated before dawn paints the sky red. The refrain 
is taken up in Moslem prayers at Peking and is repeated 
across the whole of China. It is heard in the valleys of 
the Himalayas and on “the roof of the world.” A few 
hours later the Persians pronounce these Arabic words and 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 88 

then across the Peninsula the muezzins call the “ faithful ” 
to prayer. At the waters of the Nile the cry “ Allaha 
Akbar ” is again sounded forth, ever carrying the Arabic 
speech westward across the Sudan, the Sahara, and the 
Barbary States, until it is last heard in the mosques of 
Morocco.^ 

Emphasis has been placed upon the asset that the 
Greek language was to our faith in the early days of 
Christianity ; but in Islam we have the astonishing fact 
of a people who took their language with them, imposed 
it with a new faith on alien peoples, and made it the 
common tongue of millions who formerly spoke other and 
widely different languages. As Islam spread, so Arabic 
became essential. It is the language of the Koran, and 
because of this it is considered to be the language, superior 
to all others, the medium of divine revelation and the 
language of heaven. The halo of glory cast around 
Arabic probably did more than anything to establish 
Islam in non-Arab lands. It formed a link for the 
student with Europe in the West and India in the East. 
Books written in Arabic could be circulated in every part 
of the Moslem world and readily translated into languages 
beyond the control of Islam. In this way, Arab influence 
through language spread into Europe, and at the same 
time touched the life of India and Persia. 

The Arabs, unimaginative and stolid, found themselves 
thrown among peoples of a widely different mentality. 
Christianity, some one has said, never spread to any great 
extent among the Bedouin because it was too complicated. 
But there is another reason and a more potent one. Chris- 
tianity in Arabia had refused to compromise with Arab 
superstitions, its polygamy, and Kaaba-worship. Mo- 
hammed reduced everything to the simplest possible creed 
based upon his conception of God, which is that of an 
almighty Arab. His system of religion was a compromise 
with custom and superstition. The Kaaba was retained 
‘ S. 11. Zwemer, Arabia, th» Cradh <(f Itkm, p. 238. 



84 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


as a sacred shrine, polygamy was sanctioned, and the 
Bedouin found that by dropping their many gods for Allah 
they could retain almost everything else that had previ- 
ously gone to make up the content of their lives. From 
Moses to Christ all the prophets had fought against the 
vices of their people, but here was a man who based his 
claim to a divine mission upon the success of his arms. 
“Might is right” was his creed, and he freely exploited in the 
cause of Islam the evil and vicious instincts of the Arabs. 

These Arabs, with their love of loot, were at an early 
stage called upon to rule an empire. In Damascus they 
were soon fascinated by the new modes of life with which 
they came into contact ; Byzantine civilization created in 
these sons of the desert a love of pleasure and luxury, and 
it was small wonder that the glory of Mecca and Medina 
faded from their view as they threw themselves into the 
gaiety of a new life. They were brought into touch with 
the philosophy of the day, Hellenism in Syria and Latinism 
in Spain, and they jumped at one stride from the barbarism 
of Arabia into the civilization of the West. A nice prob- 
lem here presents itself. Islam projected in this way into 
the West had two possibilities before it. Either it might 
become so completely assimilated to the faith and philo- 
sophy of the West as to lose virtually its own individuality ; 
in doing so it would march with the civilized world in 
progress and advancement. Or, it might so maintain 
its Arab identity as to prevent any complete assimilation, 
and, in consequence, by stamping out progressive thought, 
adhere to a strict orthodoxy. 

The history of Islam moves in cycles. For a time toler- 
ance and liberal thought dominated policy, and Arab 
fanaticism was swept aside. The Islamized countries of 
the East and West made their contribution to a new 
learning that was radiant with hope for the future. But 
such a cycle ended in reaction when Arab orthodoxy gained 
the upper hand and stagnation followed the suppression of 
any liberal tendencies. 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM »6 

Such a cycle was the period of. the Omaj^ad dynasty in 
Damascus. The old Arab party in Medina saw that power 
was passing out of their hands into that of the Syrians in 
Damascus, and the struggle that followed was between 
Syrian civilizatioh and Arab mentality. The Syrians, 
readily adapting themselves to Islam and the changed 
circumstances of the Moslem occupation, took up the task 
of educating their invaders. 

The Arabs made little effort to resist the temptation to 
imitate the Syrians, and to the creed of Islam they added 
the doctrine that happiness is the highest good. Caliphs 
believed just enough about God and His Prophet to be 
termed Moslems, but the strict observance of Mohammed’s 
commands was thrown to the wind. Arabia, which up to 
now had been the home of the elect, was treated with con- 
tempt and made a province subject to the rule of Damascus. 
The stories of Moslem life in Damascus shocked the Arabs 
of Medina who, through loss of prestige and anxiety for the 
faith, rebelled against the Omayyads. An army marched 
south and captured Medina ; the tables were indeed turned 
when the sacred city, from which the troops had poured to 
the sack of cities in Syria, was given up to three days’ 
plunder and rapine by the Damascus caliph. The mosque 
containing the tomb of Mohammed was converted into a 
stable for horses. Moslems of Syria drove their co-religion- 
ists in Medina into slavery and the Arabs tasted something 
of the bitter sorrow which they had caused to so many 
peoples in other lands. What happened in Syria occurred 
in many lands. The Arabs, incapable of ruling alone, 
came under the control of the Islamized elements of the 
countries conquered. But the hand of Islam was a dead 
hand and in spite of local control progress through the 
Mohammedan system became impossible. Had the Arabs 
penetrated into France in a.d. 782, that country would to- 
day probably have been at the level of a Turkish province. 

The rule of Damascus became increasingly unpopular 
until in a revolt in the year 750 the Omayyad dynasty, as 



M THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

we have seen, came to an ignominious end. The cycle had 
completed itself. The reactionary forces of Arabia had 
allied themselves with the descendants of Abbas, an uncle 
of Mohammed, in the hope of re-establishing the primitive 
faith. A new cycle now began under the Abbaside dynasty 
which, instead of justifying the hopes of Medina, was soon 
to prove itself more modern than the Damascus regime 
had been. 

The Abbaside caliphate, centred in Baghdad (a.d. 750- 
1256), is renowned throughout the world for its patronage 
of art, literature, science, and philosophy. We have al- 
ready seen that the Arab caliphs stood for Islam in its 
simplicity and purity, and that the Omayyad caliphs of 
Damascus had built up an Islamic empire with a common 
language throughout ; in the Abbaside dynasty we imme- 
diately discover startling changes making their appearance. 
If the Omayyad period showed the influence of Syria upon 
Arab life, the Abbaside regime in a greater degree marked 
the impact of philosophical thought and non-Arab culture 
upon Islam itself. The mental lethargy of a deadening 
orthodoxy was thrown off and caliphs, freed from the 
anxiety of perpetual war, found leisiure for study. Science 
attracted the attention of A1 Mansour (a.d. 754), who 
applied himself, among other things, to astronomy. In 
Mamun’s reign (818) a new era began, which has aptly been 
described as “ the Augustan period of Arabian letters.” ^ 
Mamun himself had been influenced by Persian thought and 
his sympathies were strongly with the Shiah sect. His 
reign was marked by a wide measure of tolerance. He even 
allowed Christians the liberty of discussion on the respec- 
tive claims of Christianity and Islam. He surrounded 
himself with scholars of all schools of thought. Learned 
discussions took place in his presence. He held the doctrine 
of free will as opposed to predestination. His views on. 
the Koran were regarded as heretical, for although he 
accepted its inspiration he believed it to be “ created.” 

^ Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 2G0. 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 87 

The orthodox opinion is that the Koran is “ uncreate and 
eternal.” The court in those days was one of brilliant 
splendour. Men of science and letters, poets, physicians, 
and philosophers were munificently entertained, and differ- 
ences of creed were no barrier to royal preferment, for Jews 
and Christians were equally welcomed to the court. An 
observatory on the plains of Tadmor was used for the 
study of astronomy. It was through the labour of men 
of learning at the court of Mamun that Europe learned 
again something of their heritage in Greek science and 
philosophy.^ 

Mamun’s agents in Constantinople, Armenia, Syria, and 
Egypt collected volumes of Greek science which were 
translated into Arabic, and Moslem writers to-day claim, 
with a good deal to be said for their point of view, that the 
European Renaissance really began under the Arab revival 
of learning and not in the fifteenth century. They assert 
that Spain and Baghdad under Moslem rule, not Italy, 
were the cradle of the rebirth of Europe. The point is 
one of more than historical interest, since Moslems argue 
from this that Islam, as a system, stands for liberty, science, 
and literature in their widest sense. It is true to say that 
there has been nothing in Islamic history, before or since, 
comparable to the Abbaside period. It stands by itself, 
unique and brilliant, but thoroughly unorthodox and in 
many ways untrue to Islamic traditions and teaching. 

Moslems entered a new and unknown world when they 
came into contact with Greek literature. Nestorian Chris- 
tians had maintained a high standard of general education 
and had preserved much of Hellenic medical science. In 
the Omayyad times most of the doctors in the Moslem 
empire were Nestorians, many of whom professed Islam. 
They had preserved Aristotle’s writings and a wide mathe- 
matical literature. Their being Moslem was a convenience 
rather than a conviction. Their scientific knowledge, 
which was in no sense Arab, was made available to the 

* William Muir, Tht Caliphate, its Rise, Decline, and Fall, pp. 609-14. 



88 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Moslem world through the patronage which, the caliphs 
gave to learning. It was, therefore, non-Arab thought — 
Greek, Christian, Jewish, and Indian — ^that was reacting 
on Islam. Vast libraries were collected, and an army of 
writers employed in copying manuscripts. 

When we remember that Arabic-speaking scholars were 
in every main centre from Baghdad to Cordova, we shall at 
once see how great was the influence of Baghdad in the 
spread of the new learning. With Arabic as a medium, 
scholars in the Far East and in Europe were brought into 
the centre of a great renaissance, in which they quickly 
took up with zest the study of a literatmre that opened up 
endless vistas before them. Thus we find the movement 
spreading through Persia, affecting Moslem thought in the 
Near East, gathering new strength in Spain, and influencing 
life in Emope. This was only possible because the caliphs 
set the example of broad tolerance and liberality towards 
those of other faiths. Ibn Khallikan says, “ It is related 
that Mansur [the second Abbaside caliph] wished to con- 
vert a Christian, who said, ‘ In the faith of my fathers I will 
die ; where they are I wrish to be, whether in heaven or in 
hell.’ Whereupon the Caliph laughed and dismissed him 
with a rich present.” ^ 

It was this kindly tolerance that made possible the 
investigation of truth for truth’s sake. The translations 
of many Greek authors initiated the Arabs into the scien- 
tific discoveries of antiquity, but this was not due to Arab 
genius, for the inspiration of the whole movement came 
from other sources, mainly Greek. The influence of Jews 
in Spain, and of Persian scholars, and the contacts with 
Sanskrit literature and Indian ideas were largely responsible 
for the new thought. Out of this movement sprang the 
great educational centres of Baghdad, Bosra, Cairo, and 
Cordova. They began as religious institutions, based on 
the mosques, but they developed into great universities — 
the light of which shone far beyond the frontiers of Islam. 

* E. Sell, Vmayyad and Abbaaed Khalifatea, pp. 66-6. 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 89 


No distinction of class was allowed, and the nobleman’s 
son studied side by side with the artisan. Liberal allow- 
ances of food were made to poor scholars and tuition was 
free. Christian students were attracted to these centres 
of learning and were admitted on an equal footing with 
Moslems. Moslem scholars, building on Greek mathe- 
maticians, first used the decimal notation. Algebra is 
practically their creation. They developed spherical trigo- 
nometry. In physics they invented the pendulum. They 
made progress in astronomy, built observatories and astro- 
nomical instruments, some of which are still in use. 
In medicine they made great advances on the Greeks. 
Their singeons, it is claimed,^ understood the use of 
ansesthetics, and they made considerable progress in 
chemistry. They studied philosophy. In manufactures 
they excelled in beauty of design and workmanship. They 
knew the secrets of dyeing, and they manufactured paper. 
They scovired the universe for knowledge, and made it 
available to the whole world. To these centres of learning 
men of varied races and different beliefs were attracted. 
They were given complete freedom in research, and in their 
philosophy heresy, from the Islamic point of view, was 
more popular than orthodoxy which, for the time being, 
was completely in the background. 

The sword of Islam was sheathed as the youth of the 
Moslem world was drawn away from camp and battle to 
college and university. 

A curious illustration of the influence of Islamic thought 
upon mediaeval life is to be found in Dante’s Divine 
Comedy, where the setting of the Inferno has its counter- 
part in the religious tales of Islam. A single verse in the 
Koran (chap. 17, 1) says : “ Praise be to Him who called 
upon His servant to travel by night from the sacred 
temple (of Mecca) to the far-off temple (of Jerusalem).” 
Out of this allusion sprang a crop of legends telling of 
Mohammed’s joiumey in a single night from Mecca to 

' See H. G. Wells, Outlim of History, p. 336. 



00 THE EXPANSION OF ISI^AM 

Jerusalem and his ascent to heaven. Dante’s poem con- 
tains many points of contact with these legends. In each 
there is the story of a night journey. In each, Hell, Purga- 
tory, and Paradise are visited in succession, and both 
stories conclude with a vision of the throne of God. There 
is a striking similarity between the Islamic legends and 
Dante’s description of Paradise. The part played in the 
Moslem story by Gabriel, who acts as guide and adviser 
to Mohammed, is assigned by Dante to Beatrice. Gabriel 
instructs Mohammed to thank God for allowing him to 
visit heaven, and Beatrice, in the tenth canto of the Para- 
dise, says, “ Give thanks to the sun of the angels who of 
his grace hath to this sun of sense exalted thee.” Dante’s 
problems of theology find a counterpart in Mohammed’s 
ascension and the instructions given to him by the angel. 
Perhaps the most striking resemblance, however, is to be 
found in the story of the ladder set up from Jerusalem to 
heaven by which Mohammed ascended. It glittered with 
gold, silver, and precious stones. Angels stood on either 
side of it, and Mohammed travelled the whole journey in 
less time than it takes to relate.^ The twenty-first and 
twenty-second cantos of the Paradise also tell of a golden 
ladder that leads to the celestial spheres. Beatrice calls 
upon Dante to ascend by this ladder and he reaches the 
top “ in less time than it would take to withdraw the hand 
from fire.” 

So far as its framework is concerned, the Inferno is a 
very fair copy of the Moslem hell. The picture of the 
Inferno, its shape, structure, and the people consigned to 

^ lu the Christmas number, 1926, of the Bookrmn^ Mgr. William Barry, B.D., 
says, ** The Expedition to Spain of a man like St Francis yields a welcome 
glimpse of the intercourse between Christians and Islamites which proved to 
be a step in the world’s progress. We know how much St Thomas, the 
angelic doctor, was indebted to Spanish- Arabic sources for his acquaintance 
with Greek philosophy, and we have learned of late to our astonishment that 
the whole plan and structure of Dante’s greatest work were borrowed from 
Islamic legends dealing with Mohammed’s ascent to heaven on the night of 
power.” 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 91 

t, is a replica of the grim torments appointed in the 
Moslem hell to the wicked. The two pictures of heaven 
have striking resemblances also. Dante meets in heaven 
two women from his native city well known to him, and 
in the same way Mohammed meets two women : in both 
legends the women make themselves known to the 
travellers and leave them dumb with admiration at their 
beauty. It may, of course, be argued that all this is mere 
coincidence, but there is considerable evidence to show 
that both stories are represented by the same symbols, 
and both give similar details, and both are clothed in the 
same artistic form. So striking are the similarities that 
one is driven to the conclusion that there exists between 
the two stories a literary connection. Is this possible ? 
we ask. The answer lies in what we know of the com- 
munications between Islam and Europe in the Middle Ages. 
Commerce forged a powerful link between Christianity 
and Islam, and by the eleventh century Italian traders 
had settled in all the Moslem ports of the Mediterranean. 
The pilgrimages prior to the Crusades were a second 
point of contact ; Moslem books acquired by Christian 
pilgrims found their way into Europe and were translated 
by scholars into the languages of the West. 

The Crusades meant a great deal more than simply the 
clash of creeds and wars of aggression. Two civilizations, 
it is true, contended for the mastery, two faiths were in 
conflict, and two great races at war; but the Crusades 
ultimately helped both Moslems and Christians to see that 
the only hope for the future lay in a better understanding 
between Islam and Christianity. 

The failure of the Crusades, from the Christian point of 
view, led some in Europe to establish missions for the 
conversion of Islam to Christianity, and in the thirteenth 
century both Franciscans and Dominicans formed new 
links with Islam by making a thorough study of Arabic 
and the religious literature of Islam. Raymond Lull, in 
his advocacy of missions to Moslems, did much to foster 



92 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

this new learning, and the study of oriental languages in 
European universities owed much to the co-operation of 
this man. Through this new study of Islam Moslem 
theological works found their way into every capital of 
Europe. 

Sicily, from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, was 
under the Norman kings and was composed of a medley 
of races of differing religions and diverse languages. “ The 
Court of King Roger II at Palermo was formed of both 
Christians and Moslems who were equally versed in Arabic 
literature and Greek science. Moslems and Christians 
lived together in the service of the king. During the long 
reign of Frederick, King of Sicily, Islamic literature was 
the most popular study in the country. The king was 
the patron of learning and gathered together a unique 
collection of Arabic MSS. which were deposited in the 
University of Naples, founded by Frederick in a.d. 1224. 
The works of Aristotle and Averrhoes were translated and 
copies were sent to Paris and Bologna. 

Perhaps the most interesting link of all was the corre- 
spondence which passed between the savants of the West 
and men of learning throughout the Moslem world. 

We have already seen how Islam entered Europe 
through the conquest of Spain. For five hundred years 
the Moslems had played an important part in the life of 
Europe. There is no doubt that many of the Spaniards 
who had Islamized passed on to the rest of Europe the 
knowledge of Islamic culture. 

Trade, commerce, war, literature, and many other 
things all helped to introduce into mediaeval Europe the 
learning of the Moslem world. The renaissance in Islam 
had a profound influence upon the life, literature, and 
theology of the Christian West. Many Christian legends 
of the tenth century had their origin in earlier traditions 
of Islam. The folk-lore of Damascus and Baghdad was 
transmitted to the West, and in a Christian form has 
found its way into many of oiu* Church legends ; and the 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 98 

influences of Islam can be traced to-day in some aspects 
of both Catholic and Protestant theologies. 

For the framework of his poem, in which he wrote of sin 
and judgment and of the purification and final blessed- 
ness of the redeemed, Dante , drew upon legends, the origin 
of which was lost in transmission and forgotten as they 
became a part of the Christianity of the Middle Ages. I 
wandered once through the long corridors of a large 
Christian monastery. The walls were adorned with pic- 
tures of heaven and hell, and here I saw depicted in a 
twentieth-century monastery the same old Moslem legends. 
Not one of the monks would admit that these illustrations 
had anything to do with Islam, yet they were living in 
a Moslem country, and a short distance from the gate 
where I said good-bye to the hospitable old monk who had 
been my guide, I heard again these Moslem legends from 
a Mohammedan living almost under the shadow of the 
monastery.^ 

Averrhoes— -or to give him his Arab name, Abul Walid 
Mohammed Ibn Roshd — was born at Cordova about 1149. 
His father was the Mufti (chief judge) of Andalusia. As 
a young man he threw himself into the new thought and 
life of his day. He studied philosophy, medicine, juris- 
prudence, and theology, and became renowned for his 
learning. His wide range of study and his liberal tend- 
encies made him suspect, and consequently brought him 
into conflict with orthodox Islam. He taught that God, 
being the universal cause of everything, is also the author 
of all hiunan activity, but that man being free either 
acquires merit or incurs guilt according as he obeys or 
disobeys the teaching of his religion. He translated the 
works of Aristotle, whom he regarded as the greatest of 

* This subject of the influence of Islam in Dante’s writings has been ex- 
haustively treated by Mr Miguel Asin in his Islam and the Divine Comedy. 
The author, in a scholarly manner, has collected a great mass of information 
on the influence of Islam in Europe in the Middle Ages. It is to be hoped 
that some one will carry the idea a stage further and show in more detail the 
impact of Moslem thought upon the theology of Christianity. 



94 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


all philosophers. His writings found their way into 
Europe in a Latin form and were in turn studied by the 
schoolmen. Thus we see the penetration of thought 
from East to West through Arabic. Avempace, another 
Arabian philosopher, was born in Spain at the close of the 
eleventh century. He expressed freely the most heterodox 
views on the Koran and its divine authority, and his 
studies in logic and natural science were, in Latin trans- 
lations, much in use in the West. 

Avicenna— or Ibn Sina, as he was called — lived in the 
tenth century and was a native of Bokhara. He wrote 
about a hundred books, and his writings on medical science, 
drawn mainly from the works of ancient Greek physi- 
cians, were for centuries the standard authority in Europe. 
Many other names could be given to show how these 
Moslem scholars came from East and West. Persia, India, 
Turkestan, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Spain all contributed. 
They gathered together the broken fragments of an ancient 
civilization and, through the toleration of the caliphs, 
they disseminated them throughout the world. Arabia 
and Mecca contributed little, if anything, to this, and the 
renaissance did not so much represent Islam as a revolt 
against the stereotyped form of Arab religion that emanated 
from the Prophet. Mr H. G. Wells aptly sums up the 
situation thus : 

For a moment we stand amazed at the greatness of the 
Abbaside dominion ; then suddenly we realize that it is 
but as a fair husk enclosing the dust and ashes of a dead 
civilization. 

Around the banner of Islam hung the glory of an im- 
perishable civilization, the wealth of an ancient literature, 
and the heritage of all past ages. The glory was neither 
eastern nor western, neither Islamic nor Christian. It 
was the glory of the great men who were seekers after 
truth. 

It must not be imagined that throughout the Abbaside 



CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ISLAM 95 

dynasty orthodox Moslems readily acquiesced in the new 
liberty and freedom of thought. Many of those who 
had helped to overthrow the Omayyad rule did so in the 
hope that Islam would once more be centred in Mecca and 
become Arab in type again. The demands for a wider 
liberty had been voiced in Damascus, and to the chagrin 
of the orthodox the tendencies they had tried to check in 
Damascus developed and found fruition in Baghdad. 
From the earliest time there had always been these two 
parties in Islam : the orthodox, bound to a narrow inter- 
pretation of the Koran and the rigidity of dogmas, and 
the other more liberal party, which sought to enrich Islam 
by gathering into it the literature of other nations. The 
conflict continued through the Abbaside period, but the 
orthodox were silenced, as a rule, by the fact that the 
work of government was generally entrusted to Greeks 
and Persians. The orthodox party never gave way : they 
simply submitted and waited their opportunity. 

In the tenth century a new factor in the situation began 
to appear. Turkish troops had been employed at Baghdad 
and ultimately assumed authority and power. Abbaside 
caliph succeeded caliph until Seljuk bin Yakak, a Turkish 
Emir in Turkestan, became a Moslem and changed once 
more the fortunes of Islam. As the Abbasides had been 
identified with liberal thought the new Moslems espoused 
the orthodox cause. The coming of the Turks and the 
Mongols put an effective end to the renaissance in the 
East, while in the West the gradual recapture of Spain by 
the Christians brought the western phase of it to a close. 
Islam gradually came under the iron heel of the Turk, 
orthodoxy reigned supreme, and the light that had shone 
disappeared again as Arab conceptions of life and a desert 
outlook upon the world predominated. 

We have traced the actions and reactions of Islam in. 
its first impacts upon the outside world. The hell and! 
heaven of Moslem legend found their way into Christianity, \ 
but, at the same time as Europe was being profoundly 



96 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


impressed by Arabic culture, the East too, we have seen, 
was reacting upon Islam. The Sufis applied a pan- 
theistic form of metaphysics to Islam which, in part, they 
had inherited from Christian mysticism ; and the idealiza- 
tion of sexual love, so prominent a feature in the picture 
of the Moslem heaven, turned the gross views of houris in 
Paradise into a beautiful symbolism and an allegory of 
the union of the mystical soul with God. While Islam 
was giving to the West one aspect of faith, it, in turn, 
was adopting a new colour through the influences of the 
mystic East. 

We have travelled far in these chapters from the day 
when Mohammed rode on his camel into Medina. The 
dominant thought then was God in a desert environ- 
ment, as the Prophet conceived Him. The desert dis- 
appears as we watch Islam in Damascus, Baghdad, Cor- 
dova, or Persia, and a new connotation is given to “ Allah.’’ 
God means more to Islam after these world contacts 
because of the enriching influences of non-Moslem thought, 
and Moslem prestige never stood so high as when it threw 
off the shackles of Arabia, the restricted outlook of the 
desert, and sought by a liberal policy to stand for a wide 
tolerance in religion and for the pursuit of learning un- 
trammelled by the rigid rules of Koran and sheikh. We 
now turn to the study of these racial influences upon Islam 
in more detail and to trace out the different aspects of 
Islam in some of the great areas of the world. 



CHAPTER VI 

MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 

The conception of God in Islam is summed up in the first 
half of the creed, “ There is no God but God.” Moslems 
believe in a God who created all things in heaven and 
earth, who upholds all things and decrees all things. God 
is without beginning or end, omnipotent, omniscient and 
omnipresent. “ He is mighty and powerful, and the 
heavens are folded in His right hand and all creatures are 
couched within His grasp.” Palgrave sums up the Moslem 
conception of God thus : 

He is ever more prone to punish than to reward, to 
inflict pain than to bestow pleasiure, to ruin than to build. 
It is His singular satisfaction to let created beings con- 
tinually feel that they are nothing else than His slaves. 
His tools, and contemptible tools also, that thus they may 
the better acknowledge His superiority and know His 
power to be above their power. His cunning to be above 
their cunning. His will above their will. His pride above 
their pride ; or rather that there is no power, cunning, will, 
or pride save His own. . . . That such was in reality 
Moham m ed’s mind and idea is fully confirmed by the 
witness of contemporary tradition. Of this we have many 
authentic samples : the commentaries of Baidawi, the 
Mishkat-ul-Masabih and fifty similar works afford ample 
testimony on this point. . . . Men are thus all on one 
common level here and hereafter in their physical, social 
and moral light — ^the level of slaves to one sole Master, of 
tools to one universal Agent.^ 

Into this unrelieved picture of eastern despotism there 

^ NarrcUive of a Yearns Journey through Central and Saetem Arabia, 

Gifford Palgrave, vol. i* p. 366. 

a 


97 



98 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

come gleams of light, and while the idea of the Deity as 
autocratic omnipotence is true to Arab beliefs, there are 
nevertheless mystical elemente in the Koran which show 
the influence of other faiths upon the mind of Mohammed. 
The following verse from the Koran illustrates this : 

God is the Light of the Heavens and of the Earth. His 
Light is like a niche in which is a lamp, — the lamp encased 
in glass — ^the glass, as it were, a glistening star. From a 
blessed tree is it lighted, the olive neither of the East nor 
of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even 
though fire touched it not ! It is light upon light (Koran, 
chap. 24). 

Mohammed, in describing the glories of heaven, with its 
houris and material enjo 5 unents, says that the greatest 
glory of all will be to behold the face of God. It was a 
common saying among the Arabs that “ Mohammed is in 
love with his Maker.” 

At the outset two notes are struck. The dread picture 
of the Almighty striking terror into the hearts of His slaves 
is relieved by the other note of God in His mercy calling 
forth from man love, devotion, and service. 

Moslems use the word ” ibada ” for worship, a word 
which expresses the relationship and attitude of a creature 
as a slave to Allah. Spiritual life in Islam is founded upon 
the root principle of the lordship of the Creator who, 
having formed us, owns us and will do as He pleases with 
us. This relationship demands obedience, and Islam 
means those surrendered to the will of Allah. Such a 
conception of God connotes distance between the slave 
and his Lord. Nowhere in the Koran is there anything 
to relieve this sense of fear and servitude in the face of 
omnipotence. The Christian conception of the Father- 
hood of God and of men as children of an^all-loving Father 
is entirely absent. 

The call to prayer therefore, in Islam, is the demand of 
the Almighty for a daily specific ceremony, which always 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


99 


begins with “ Allah is great.” Spiritual life is fed by the 
recitation of the Koran, the offering of supplications, the 
invocation of the names of God and the mention of His 
attributes. To pray aright the body must first be cleansed, 
and ablutions are a binding command and a pre-requisite 
of all prayer. Prescribed worship is a matter of ablutions, 
genuflections, set acts and utterances. There are two 
kinds of worship, compulsory and supererogatory. Every 
Moslem is ordered to pray five times a day. If for any 
cause the prayers are omitted they must be made up at 
the first opportunity. If a Moslem intentionally and 
wilfully neglects to pray the law prescribes the penalty of 
death. The man is treated by law as an apostate. Under 
the Hanifi law the penalty is imprisonment until the erring 
believer has complied with the law. Worship in a Moslem 
state is compulsory upon all. In Arabia to-day under 
Wahhabi rule this law is rigidly applied, and Arabs who 
have refused to pray have been known to lose their lives. 
In most other Moslem lands, where the fierce Arab type of 
Islam has been softened, prayer is enjoined as a rule but 
not enforced by law. 

Additional prayers are the performing of worship at 
other times than the five set periods, and are either in 
expiation of some sin or for the seeming of rewards. It 
must not be supposed from this that there is no place in 
Islamic prayer for special requests in time of need. When 
the prescribed prayer is finished any matter of anxiety can 
be named in supplication ; the blessing and favour of 
Allah is asked with upraised hands, and the Moslem in this 
respect is in no way different from the rest of mankind. 
At any time of day and in any place he may lift up his 
heart in prayer for help or guidance. 

The law may set bounds upon what are considered to 
be the demands of Allah for worship from His creatures, 
but the human heart is the same the world over, and Islam 
at a very early stage began to find expression for the 
devotional life along other lines and altogether outside 



100 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

the prescribed acts of worship. The set forms of prayer 
given by Mohammed did not meet the needs of suffering 
humanity. They gave the creative the slave position, 
where he was told to accept all that came, good or ill, as 
part of the inscrutable will of Allah. But this is exactly 
what human beings have never been able to do. Spiritual 
aspirations were not met by pra}dng a set formula five 
times a day, and the problem of suffering found no answer 
in the fatalism of the Koran. The heart cried out for 
something more. 

The distance between the Creator and the creature had 
to be bridged somehow, and Islam, as conceived in an Arab 
brain, had failed to do this. Contaets with other faiths 
and cultures immediately began to supply what was lack* 
ing, and the spiritual life found expression in many new 
ways as Moslems learned of the immanence of God and 
the possibilities of fellowship with the Divine. 

In the early days of Islam sincere men were over- 
whelmed with a dread of the Judgment Day and the 
torments of hell, and mysticism took early root among 
those who were moved by strong emotions. It was an 
effort to find a religion of the heart rather than of the 
intellect ; the difficulty was made the greater by the 
Koranic warning that salvation depended wholly on the 
inscrutable will of Allah, who both guides aright and leads 
astray whom He will. The mystic was perplexed by the 
fact that fate was inscribed upon the eternal table of God’s 
providence, and nothing could alter it. There was, there- 
fore, in Mohammed’s teaching the germ of two widely 
differing conceptions of God, which in the Prophet’s life- 
time were never reconciled. The deism of the desert was 
ranged agmnst the theism of non- Arab religious thought 
so widely prevalent in Arabia in the seventh century, and 
while possibly we may not need to go beyond Islam for the 
origin of mystical thought in Mohammedanism yet, as will 
be shown later, Sufiism did introduce new elements into 
tile faith which have exercised a profound influence upon 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 101 

the religion ever since.^ What vre see in process in Islamic 
history is the development of certain ideas and doctrines 
of the Koran, culled from Christian idealism. Mohammed 
denounced asceticism, monkhood, and celibacy, and called 
his followers to holy wars, not to a contemplative life. 
But when Moslems reached S 3 uia, Egypt, and in particular 
Persia, they came into contact with new ideas that pro- 
foundly modified their old faith. Just because the Koran 
is the amalgamation of ideas from Jewish, Christian and 
Pagan sources, it does contain contradictory theories of 
religious doctrines. In Mohammed’s day simple faith 
accepted the Koran as the word of God, but the contra- 
dictions were there nevertheless, and it only required con- 
tacts with other races with a great history, a highly 
developed cultiu^, and a deep religious life to bring out 
clearly the rift that had existed from the first. 

Such a situation arose when the Moslem armies overran 
Persia, annexed the country, overthrew the ruling dynasty, 
laid the pride and glory of Persia in the dust, and com- 
pelled the people to become Mohammedans. In the 
coming of Islam to Persia two powerful religions met, and 
two races with age-long feuds opposed one another. 
Persia had been weakened by protracted wars with Byzan- 
tine Rome ; a weakling sat on the throne of the Shahs, 
and, as we have already seen, the Arabs, roused to a 
frenzy of fervour and fanaticism by their new-found faith, 
rushed to martyrdom or victory, death in battle or wealth 
from the spoils of war. 

Almost before the Prophet was buried dissension, strife 
and rivalry had rent Islam in two. One party supported 
Abu Bakr as Caliph ; the other contended that a caliph 
must be a member of Mohammed’s own family, and chose 
Ali, the only possible candidate who fiilfilled that con- 
dition. The faction, however, in support of Abu Bakr 
won the day, and Ali had to wait until three caliphs had 

^ For further reference to this subject see Tht Mystics of Islam, R. A* 
Nicholson. 



102 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


died before he reached the sximmit of his ambition. His 
reign was for a brief five years, when it was suddenly 
terminated by an assassin’s sword. The division in Islam 
continued. The one party called themselves Sunnis — a 
word denoting “ The People of the Path.” They were 
traditionalists, and claimed to be the orthodox members 
of Islam. The rival faction took the title of Shiahs, or 
followers, because they followed Ali and rejected the other 
caliphs. 

The Persians espoused the cause of Ali, and soon began 
to give a new connotation to Islam. When the Moslem 
armies entered Persia the national faith was Zoroastrianism, 
and while the Persians nominally accepted Islam, they never 
gave up much of their old faith. They brought it over 
with them and sought to adapt Islam to their own spiritual 
needs and imaginative temperament. Our study in this 
chapter, therefore, is of an aspect of Islam widely different 
from that which we have seen in Arabia.^ 

The Shiahs, in adopting the faction of Ali, developed it 
into a cult. They declared that the caliphate was of a 
supernatural character, and that a caliph must not only 
be without spot or taint of evil, but also incapable of sin. 
This led to the doctrine of the primeval creation of Ali. 
He was created, they taught, before Adam, and before the 
earth existed. The Shiahs believe that there have been 
twelve caliphs or imams, the first of whom was Ali. The 
last of the twelve, Mohammed, son of Hassan el Askari, is 
supposed to be still alive and hidden in some secret place 
until the end of the world, when he will again appear as 
the Mahdi. 

Mohammed had accepted as a part of his doctrine that 
the Jews and the Christians had each received a divine 
revelation, but the Shiahs added to these two the Zoro* 
astrians, or Magians, as they were then called, and said 
that they too had had a revelation from God. This enabled 

^ For the history of Persia the reader is referred to Persia, by Sir Percy 
Sykes. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


108 


the Persians to maintain links with their historical past, 
and to use their own religious literature while professing 
Mohammedanism. They adopted a principle of religious 
compromise, whereby they were allowed to commit pious 
frauds, either to deny or water down their Shiah beliefs in 
time of persecution. This made it impossible for any one 
to know what a Shiah really believed. They were never 
converted to Islam as the Arabs imderstood it. The 
Persians, by the adoption of Shiahism, devised a scheme by 
which the very religion of Islam should become an instru- 
ment of its own destruction, and power should return to 
Persia by the triumphs of the Shiahs over the Arabs : an 
ideal never attained, however, as the vast majority of 
Moslems refused to become Shiahs. By a thoroughgoing 
propaganda the Shiahs sought to win the Moslem world 
to the cult of Ali. Their emissaries travelled far and wide. 
They were all things to all men. To the orthodox they 
taught the simple lessons of the Koran with some insist- 
ence upon the immediate return of the Mahdi. To the 
philosopher they would argue from the points of pure 
reason and lead to a conclusion of sheer negation. 

It will be seen from what has been said that the Shiahs 
exercised much more freedom of thought than was allowed 
in Arabia. They did not consider themselves bound by 
authority in the same way as the Sunnis did. They de- 
manded the right of interpretation and liberty to develop 
on their own national lines, and with such tendencies to 
deductive reasoning they not only opened the door to 
wide divergencies of opinion between Shiahs and Sunnis, 
but also to differences among themselves. Thought among 
them ranged from absolute pantheism to tales of miracle 
and superstition. In the Shiah sect extremes meet. 
Asceticism is preached by some with burning ardour, and 
yet others fall into gross licentiousness. In a soil of this 
sort we have many of the elements necessary for the 
development of a strong national religious consciousness, 
Islamic in form, but eastern and mystical in content. 



104 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The fact that the last imam, or caliph, was believed to 
be alive and only waiting for the right moment in which 
to reveal himself, gave rise to all sorts of secret societies 
and led naturally to the schemes and plots of pretending 
Mahdis. It is, however, with those who, while remaining 
Moslems, were seekers after truth and light that we wish to 
deal mainly in this chapter. 

Islam, with its legal system, its Arab mould and its 
desert conception of God, must appear at first sight as 
impossible ground in which any mystical plant could grow. 
The detail of ritual and the cold formality of the religion 
seem to be poles apart from eastern mysticism. This 
compromise, however, has been attempted by the mystics 
who ignored the literal words of Mohammed and adopted 
a mystic and spiritual interpretation of the Koran. The 
Shiah sect lent itself readily to such adaptations by its 
doctrine of the divine attribute of the caliphs and imams. 
As Shiah followers travelled and studied other faiths they 
gleaned ideas from Zoroastrians, Hindus, Gnostics ; and 
with some Islam simply became an adaptation of the 
Vedanta School of Hindu philosophers. However much 
the orthodox Moslems might appeal to reason and logic, 
the mystics could not find it any substitute for their sense 
of the beautiful or their contemplation of the love of God 
and the union of the soul with the Divine. The desire 
for communion with God lay at the root of this movement, 
and the soul-hunger of Moslems who could find no spiritual 
nourishment in the husks of Arabia sought satisfaction in 
the search for a God who was immanent and ever working 
in His creatures, who was the Sum of all existence, the 
Fulness of life, the Omnipresent who dwelt in and com- 
muned with each individual soul.' 

From the earliest days of Islam these mystical tendencies 
have been apparent, and as Mohammedanisni took root in 
Persia they found expression in what has come to be known 
as Sufibm. In spite of the common saying, “ There is no 

^ See £. Sell, on lalam, p. 2. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


105 


monkhood in Islam,” a Persism in the ninth century 
founded a monastery, and his followers were called Sufis 
or Woolers, from the woollen garments which they wore. 
These monks lived a contemplative life, and sought in 
pantheism a rest of heart that they could not find in the 
God of Arabia. Their main doctrine was that the souls 
of men differ in degree but not in kind from the Divine 
Spirit. The hiunan soul is an emanation of the Divine 
Spirit and ultimately will return to it. “ He alone is 
perfect love and beauty and so love to Him is the only 
real thing ; all else is illusion.” ^ The poet Sadi says — “ I 
swear by the truth of God that when He showed me His 
glory all else was illusion.” * 

The present life is one of separation from the beloved. 
The beauties of nature, music, and art revive in men the 
divine idea and recall their affections from wandering 
from Him to other objects. These sublime affections men 
must cherish, and by abstraction concentrate their thoughts 
on God, and so approximate to His essence, and finally 
reach the highest stage of bliss — absorption into the 
Eternal.* 

The doctrine of the Sufis states that God alone exists. 
He is in all things and all things are in Him. This carries 
with it the corollary that nothing is distinct from God and 
everything is an emanation from Him. The religious laws 
of Islam were often regarded as matters of indifference. 
They had their use as stepping-stones to reality. There 
does not exist any real difference between good and evil 
because God is the author of all acts of man. The will of 
man is not free and all his actions are fixed by God. The 
body is a cage which confines the soul. This imprisonment 
finds no release except through death ; therefore the true 
Sufi longs for death that his enslaved soul may return to 
God. Life [in the body is described as a stage of purifica- 
tion to perfect the soul for true reunion with God. This 

^ E. Sell, Faith of Islam, p. 122. * Quoted in above. 

of Islam. 



106 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

naturally leads the Sufi to a life of meditation. The unity 
of God fills his soul and carries with it a wealth of mean- 
ing altogether beyond what Mohammed meant when he 
preached that God is one. To him the unity of God was a 
unity of isolation and separation from the human. God 
was one in the sense that He had no partner, and not at 
all in the pantheistic sense that God was one becaxise 
there was nothing but God in the world. Mohammed 
never contemplated absorption in the Divine. He saw 
man not as a divinity but as the human slave of the 
Creator. The Sufis took up the doctrine of the unity of God 
and saw in it the ultimate goal of the soul ; life became 
a journey and a pathway by which the divine in man could 
attain ultimately to complete \mification with God. 

In all this there are elements common to all the great 
religions. Much in it is similar to Hindu philosophy, much 
reminds us of the Gnostics of ancient Greece, and there 
are many similarities to Christian mysticism. To show 
where Islam differs from other faiths on its mystical side 
is extremely difficult. The Moslem had as a background 
the Koran and the doctrines of the faith, and when he 
tended to swing away into pantheism he was pulled up 
sharply by his creed. Mysticism is more a tendency of 
feeling and emotion than any definite system of religious 
thought, and these emotions find expression in all faiths 
where the human heart seeks for communion and fellow- 
ship with God. It has always fiourished at periods when 
organized religion had become formal and cold. At times 
of decay in religion, such as the Abbaside period, it again 
came to the front as men, sick of a religion of ease and 
pleasure, sought comfort and help in a life of devotion. 
The Middle Ages in Europe produced many saintly mystics 
who failed to find what they sought in the scholastic 
theology of the day. At a later day and for the same 
reason the Quakers and William Law rediscovered once 
more the mystical elements in Christianity. 

There is a striking resemblance between Sufiinn and the 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 10? 

seven Christian stages given by St Augustine in the Ascent 
of the Soul. Of the last stage he writes : 

I entered and beheld with the mysterious eye of my 
soul the light that never changes, above the eye of my 
soul, above my intelligence. ‘ It was something altogether 
different from any earthly illumination.^ 

There are marked similarities between the Moslem and 
Christian types of mysticism. The terminology is often 
similar. Both speak of life as a “way” or a journey 
in which the soul grows into fellowship with the Divine. 
Both emphasize prayer and both seek a personal God 
“ who shall be susceptible of relations with men, for the 
recognition of all that is implied in human nature and for 
immortality.” ^ 

Love is a mark common to both, and the contempla- 
tive life of devotion is a common ideal. Where then does 
Christianity materially differ from Islam on its mystical 
side ? The answer lies in the background of the two faiths 
and in the ideals of Jesus and Mohammed. The Moslem 
mystic who drifts into sheer pantheism is more Hindu 
than Moslem, and his ideal of ultimate complete absorption 
into God places him in a category by himself. He has 
practically ceased to be a Moslem in the ordinary sense of 
the word. But the man who steeps himself in mystical 
thought and still remains a Mohammedan, with the Koran 
as his text-book and Mohammed as his Prophet, may be 
compared to the Christian who finds his inspiration in the 
New Testament and maintains a true loyalty to Christ. 

The same terms may be used with widely different 
meanings. Love in Islamic mysticism is an abstract thing, 
an emotion aroused by the contemplation of God. The 
stages of love are described by Moslem writers as first, 
the inclining of the soul to the object of love, then love 

^ Quoted in E. Sell, The Mystic of Islam, p. 16, from Christian Mysticism, by 
W. R. Inge. 

* See Progress in ReUgion, T. R. OloTer, p. 330. 



108 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

cleaving to the heart, the ardour of love accompanied by 
pleasure, inward love leading to a state of enslavement 
and distraction accompanied by loss of reason, and over- 
powering love with a wandering about at random.^ 

Love in the Christian sense is a disinterested quest of 
the real, the good and the beautiful, which finds expres- 
sion not in the abstract contemplation which ultimately 
deprives man of his reason but in a life of service and 
sacrifice. “ If a man love not his brother whom he hath 
seen how can he love God whom he hath not seen ? ” asks 
St John. And herein lies the wide difference between 
Islamic and Christian mysticism. Behind this difference 
are the widely divergent conceptions of God as revealed 
by Jesus Christ and Mohammed. 

The Christian is not, through the mystical road, seeking 
to acquire merit and by arduous labour working his way 
towards acceptance with God. He starts at the Cross and 
the revelation of God’s love, free and unmerited, for a 
sinful and suffering humanity. Love is called out in the 
Christian “ because He first loved us,” as St Paul says. 
He accepts forgiveness of sins freely through Jesus Christ, 
and his journey is a growth in knowledge of God and com- 
mimion with Him. The Moslem sees life as a journey from 
darkness to light, as an eternal quest and struggle. The 
Christian begins with the fact that at the commencement 
of the journey he has been “ brought out of darkness to 
light.” There is a world of difference between the wild 
dancing of dervishes, or the unhealthy excitement of the 
zikrs (public repetitions of the name of God), and the 
example that Christ gave of prayer life. He spent nights 
in prayer, “ but there is not a trace in the Gospels of 
rapturous ecstasy or strange visions. ‘ Let not your heart 
be troubled ’ is His parting message to His disciples.” * 
Much of the mysticism of the East is entirely self- 
centred, and little thought is given to a suffering world by 

^ See Kvlliyui, Mir Abu-1- Baga. 

* W. B. Inge, Persofial RdigUm aftd the Life of Devotion, p. 31. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


109 


those who are absorbed in freeing their own souls from the 
slavery of the body. Introspection often means an 
indifference to the needs of otWs and makes life selfish 
and love meaningless. Christ sought to save the world 
from a mysticism that makes religion so individualistic 
that it never finds expression in sacrificial service for the 
world. He showed that the highest and deepest worship 
of God lies in service for fellow-men. His life, in complete 
harmony with God, in unbroken commxmion with the 
Father, was a life of toil and service in an all-embracing 
love for men. He carried in his heart the burdens of the 
world, and communion with God meant for Him not intro- 
spective selfishness, nor a self-centred contemplative life, 
but a selfless giving of Himself for the life of the world. 

The Sufi novice is instructed to put aside all worldly 
thoughts, to detach himself from all sense of home, family, 
or country, and, in retirement, to concentrate his whole 
mind on God. He begins by repeating over and over 
again the word Allah, Allah, and he continues in this 
meditation until his mind is so absorbed in God that the 
very word drops out and the mystical soul is concentrated 
on the meaning of God, who fills heart, mind and will. 
At this stage there comes to the Sufi a divine illumination, 
a spiritual experience, that lifts the soul into communion 
and fellowship with God. Dogma, reason and logic are 
thus displaced by the “ inner light,” which illuminates the 
heart and guides the life of man. When a man wishes to 
become a Sufi he places himself under the direction of a 
superior, who examines him as to his sincerity, and says, 
“ You are the garden and I the gardener.” The applicant 
binds himself to follow the spiritual directions of the 
sheikh wholly and entirely, and in this manner he enters 
on the Mystic Way. 

Some of his preliminary directions are : 

Keep the commands of Allah and abstain from the things 
prohibited. 

In the way and the law become learned. 



110 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Look not on the faults of others. 

Supply the needs of the needy with justice and mercy. 
Think of nought but the Law, the Way, the Knowledge of 
the Reality.^ 

Life, according to the Sufi, is a “ way,” or a journey, 
in which there are seven stages. The discipline is very 
severe, and the spiritual exercises involve fasting and 
silence. In a monastery the novice will be sent to a small 
dark cell where he has to sit for forty days and nights. 
He is not allowed to lie down at night, but takes his sleep 
as he sits at prayer. He comes forth from his cell to take 
part in the Zikr, in which the men form a ring and com- 
mence to repeat the word God — all together they chant 
Allah, Allah, Allah. The word is from time to time varied 
by other names for God, as “ The Living,” and this is 
kept up until a state of ecstasy is reached, when the wor- 
shippers in rapture forget themselves and everything and 
Allah becomes all. Men in this state will run skewers 
through their arms and cheeks, stab themselves with 
knives, handle fire, and even chew in their mouths live 
coals, and yet no hml; or harm is done ; no blood is seen, 
and the mouth is not burnt. I have frequently watched 
these Zikrs, and have handled the long skewers made of 
wrought iron, and have been baffled time and again at the 
ceremony. The Sufi answer simply is that the body 
becomes spiritualized and feels no pain at all. 

Seventy thousand veils separate God from the world of 
matter. The inner half of the veils are light and the outer 
half darkness, and the soul at birth is imprisoned in the 
body and separated by these many veils from God. The 
Mystic Way is designed as a way of escape by which man 
can penetrate through the veils and recover his original 
unity with the Divine. For every stage through which the 
Sufi passes ten thousand veils are taken away. These are 

^ Quoted in The Way of a Mohammedan Myetic, by W. H. T. Gairdner. I 
am indebted to Canon Gairdner for much of the material in this chapter on the 
Mystic Way. — W. W. C. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 111 

the seven stages through which all must pass if they would 
find God : 

First Stage. 

The soul depraved. This. is the state of all men, cor- 
rupted by sin, unregenerate and natural. In this stage 
the pilgrim has to face the facts of his life and its failings. 
The root evils to be eradicated are lust, anger, ignorance, 
doubt, polytheism, etc. 

The following prayer has to be repeated hundreds of 
times : 

My God, show to me my outward self. 

By the authority of There is no God save Allah. 
And certify my inward self 

Of the truth of There is no God save Allah. 

And keep me from trouble and sickness 

By the truth of There is no God save Allah. 

Second Stage. 

The soul accusatory. During this stage the pilgrim 
repeats this prayer : 

My God, make the heart of thy feeble servant a place of 
manifestation for thy essence and a place of welling forth 
for thy signs ; and grant me to be established in making 
mention of thee, O Allah. 

It is a period of strict introspection, when the soul 
accuses itself of its evils, repents and seeks to cut away 
the things that hinder progress in the journey. 

Third Stage. 

The soul inspired. Here the pilgrim receives positive 
teaching on love as the divine passion, and seeks to regain 
the inner sight — the faith of seeing. 

Fourth Stage. 

The soul tranquil. Here the old life is left behind. 
The evils fought against disappear, and virtues begin to 



112 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

spring up in their place. The struggle is over, and every- 
thing from now on leads to Allah. 

Fifth Stage. 

The soul God-satisfied. Here begins true knowledge. 
The previous stages have been preliminary, but now the 
pilgrim is initiated into the secrets of Sufiism. A new 
song is put into the mouth of the pilgrim : 

Ho, Soul, thou soul tranquil. Return unto thy Lord, 
God-satisfied, God-satisfying, thus enter among my 
servants and enter into my Paradise. 

Sixth Stage. 

The soul God-satisfying. Here the pilgrim reaches the 
stage when he is not only satisfied in God, but also when 
he is the object of God’s satisfaction. 

Seventh Stage. 

The soul perfect. Here at last the pilgrim reaches 
Reality. He has now attained, and he sees himself in 
perfect oneness with God. His creed is “ There is no God 
save I.” ^ 

Underlying all in this journey is the entire negation of 
self in order to make clear the truth that there is no exist- 
ence save that of God. 

While Sufiism has flourished in Persia it is by no means 
confined to that country, nor is it limited to the Shiah sect. 
Devout souls of every age have sought God in the Mystic 
Way. One of the earliest of these mystics was Hasan 
Basri, who died in a.d. 728. He was bom in Medina, 
where his mother lived as a slave in the Prophet’s family. 
At an early age he practised a severe form of asceticism. 
His fearless preaching attracted attention, and his life was 
a constant search for God. When asked about his spiritual 

> For • full Moount of these seven stages, see The Way of a Mohanmedan 
iiyetk, W. H. T. Qaiidiier, p. 13. 



MYSTiaSM IN ISLAM 


118 


state he said» My state is like that of a man shipwrecked 
in the sea, who is clinging to a solitary plank.” ^ 

The next famous of these early mystics, strmigely 
enough, was a woman, Rabiah. In an age when women 
were despised she overcame impossible physical difficulties 
and won for herself a place of honour and esteem among 
the leaders of religious thought in her day. She was a 
slave girl, who in severe bondage could pray, “ Lord, I am 
far from my own, a captive and an orphan, and yet none 
of these things grieve me. Only this one thought causes 
me disquiet : it is that I know not if Thou art satisfied 
with me.” She was consumed by a passionate love for 
God, and eventually through her piety softened the heart 
of her master and won her liberty. She was accustomed 
to spend whole nights in prayer, and when she was asked 
whether she was troubled by Satan, replied, ” I love the 
Lord so much I do not trouble myself about the enmity of 
Satan.” Costly presents and money were offered to her, 
but she refused them all in her determination to trust 
God for her daily bread. She was a great sufferer, yet 
rejoiced in the will of God. “ He is not sincere,” she used 
to say, “ who does not find delight in the afflictions which 
the Lord sends.” She died in 752 as she had lived, a 
great saint. Her life is perhaps best summed up in the 
following saying of hers — “ My God, if it is from fear of 
hell that I serve Thee, condemn me to bum in hell ; and 
if it is for hope of Paradise, forbid me entrance there ; but 
if it is for Thy sake only, deny me not the sight of Thy 
face.” 

That this movement was not simply due to a particular 
t 3 q>e of devout Moslem is seen by the fact that men of 
notoriously bad character were converted and adopted the 
ascetic life. Fudhayl Ben Aziz was a highwa 3 rman and 
robber in the early part of the ninth centmy when he heard 
a voice calling him to repentance, and from that day his 

^ For an account of the lives of Hasan Basri and Eabiab, see Mystics and Saints 
of I slam f Claud Field, pp. 18*35. 

H 



114 


THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 


old life was forgotten in his new-found love for God. “ I 
serve God,” he said, “ because I cannot help serving Him 
for my very love’s sake.” 

Among these mystics there are experiences common to 
all. They found in prayer not only access to God, but the 
fullest and freest communion with Him. Prayer was not 
a matter of formula or rites, but the outpouring of hearts 
aflame with passion for the Divine. The love of God was 
a characteristic note among them all. They heard a voice 
speaking to them, which they accepted implicitly as the 
voice of God, and obeyed it. Dreams played a great part 
in their lives, and many of them began to travel the Mystic 
Way through a vivid dream. Characters were reformed 
and a hatred of sin and evil developed as they sought God 
through an ascetic life. Such was Zun Nun of Egj^t, 
who prayed that he might have no certainty of subsistence 
for the morrow, that he might never be honoured among 
men, and that he might see God’s face in mercy on his 
death-bed. Some of the mystics in their spiritual expe- 
riences saw their lives as emanations of the Deity, and 
suffered martyrdom for heresy. Mansour Hallaj, who 
denied that the specific performances, such as the pilgrim- 
age, were obligatory, was put to death in the tenth cen- 
tury for declaring, “ I am the truth,” which was one of 
the recognized names for God. Others, when suffering 
the most horrible tortures, were so filled with a sense of 
the love of God that they prayed forgiveness for their 
persecutors. 

However much we may criticize Sufiism for its pantheism, 
its denial of freewill and personal responsibility, and its 
ultimate end in utter negation, the fact remains that the 
mysticism of the Sufis and kindred movements has pro- 
foundly affected Islam, and if the Dervish orders to-day 
are any gauge of its strength, it is true to say that this 
quest for God through the Mystic Way is the most potent 
and spiritual factor in the whole world of Islam at the 
present time. It is impossible to estimate the number of 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


115 


Moslems who are members of Dervish orders, but if their 
strength in Eg 3 T)t is any guide, probably well over fifty 
per cent of the population of that country are Dervishes, 
It is equally true to say that Dervishism appeals most 
powerfully to the poor and -ignorant, who in their own 
dim way are conscious of a deep spiritual need, and seek 
to satisfy it through the experience of the mystical repe- 
tition of the name of God. The majority never enter a 
monastery, they do not travel far on the ‘‘ way,” but they 
are seeking God, and in this quest lies the strength of Islam 
far more than in the cold dogmas of the Azhar University, 
or the enlightened new Islam of Aligarh or Woking. 

It was in the eleventh century that from out of this 
mystical movement there sprang a man who has left a 
mark upon the world far beyond the frontiers of Islam. 
Al-Ghazali ^ was born in Khorasan, Persia, in a.d. 1068, 
and died in 1111. He studied widely, and soon earned a 
great reputation as a scholar. He steeped himself in Sufi 
thought, read Koranic theology, travelled extensively and 
was ever in search of truth. He describes himself at 
one stage as a thoroughgoing sceptic. Rationalism was 
strong and free, and independent thought made the ortho- 
dox position difficult. The struggle between science and 
religion was at its height. 

Ghazali found no help in scepticism, nor did he find 
philosophy any guide in his trouble. He turned to 
mysticism for solace and comfort. His need was spiritual. 
To eat, drink and be merry was no remedy for a man 
determined to find the truth. He tells his experiences 
thus : 

I saw that Sufiism consists in experiences rather than 
in definitions, and what I was lacking belonged rather to 
the domain not of instruction but of ecstasy and initiation. 

His search gave him three ideas that became fixed in his 

^ For further reference, see Al-Ohazali, by W. H. T. Gairdner, and A Moslem 
Seeker after God, by S. M. Zwemer. 



llfl THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

experience : the fact of God ; inspiration ; and the Last 
Judgment. He says — 

I saw that the only condition of success was to sacrifice 
honours and riches, and to sever the ties and attachments 
of worldly life. 

After a long struggle he yielded his will to God and threw 
himself on Divine mercy. He gave up all his fortune and 
began to travel as a simple pilgrim. He visited Damascus, 
Jerusalem, and Mecca, and sought peace through the Mystic 
Way. On the subject of prayer he rises beyond the limit 
of ordinary Moslem teaching. Prayers, he says, are of 
three kinds — ^the first those spoken only with the lips ; 
the second, when by resolution the soul is able to fix its 
thoughts on Divine things though disturbed by worldly 
affairs ; and the third, when God takes possession of the 
soul and the soul of him who prays is absorbed in God. 
Here all consciousness of self ceases, and the soul is ab- 
sorbed in God. Ghazali was denounced as a heretic, and 
yet probably his name is to-day, after that of Mohammed, 
more honoured in Islam than any other. He exercised a 
kindly influence on those whose creed was hard and 
fanatical. He softened the stem hand of those who 
thought persecution a merit, and by his breadth of out- 
look he widened the minds of many whose views were set 
in an iron mould. He saved Islam from decrepitude and 
opened to the Moslem world the glorious possibilities of a 
life hid in God. In the days when new learning and science 
were shaking the foundations of Islam he showed that 
there was no necessary contradiction between religion and 
science. While he drank deeply of the learning of his age 
he remained to the end a humble seeker after God, and he 
is one of the few mystics of Islam who have won and held 
the admiration of the orthodox. While he practised 
Suflism, yet he never became a true pantheist. In fact, 
he led men back to a new study of the Koran and the 
Traditions. His ethical teaching did much to stem the 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


117 


tide of immorality and evil so prevalent in his day. 
Mysticism ever since, though in varied forms, has had an 
assured place in orthodox Islam. 

How far did Al'Ghazali approach to a real knowledge of 
God ? The vision he sought was always full of fear of 
judgment. His life was one long and sincere search with 
many wonderful spiritual experiences, and he died as he 
lived, still seeking.^ He serves to illustrate the best type 
of Sufiism. 

We must trace out further movements in Persia that 
sprang from the Shiah schism. Among the doctrines of 
the Shiah, as we have seen, was that of the Imam, or 
hidden caliphs. The last, or twelfth, imam, Abu-l-Kasim, 
who lived in the tenth century, is supposed to have held 
communication with his followers through a number of 
men called Abwab, or doors. The last of these “ doors ” 
of communication refused to appoint a successor. The 
minds of the Shiahites were much exercised as they had 
no “Bab” or spiritual director. About 1848 Mirza Ali 
Mohammed, a youth of twenty-four, declared himself to 
be the Bab or door : “ Whosoever wishes to approach the 
Lord his God, or to know the true way that leads to Him, 
ought to do it through me,” he said. Many pious Moslems 
believed that in this man the signs of the twelfth imam 
were fulfilled. His followers multiplied rapidly. Mystics 
who longed for reform in Persia joined him too. But 
when he sought to convert Shiraz to his doctrine he was 
pronoimced mad and put in prison. His followers in- 
creased so rapidly that he was ordered to be executed at 
Tabriz. The story that follows is best told in the words 
of a great authority on Persia : 

In the great square he received the volley of the firing 
party and when the smoke had cleared away he had disap- 
peared. Had he gained the bazaar he might have escaped, 
and his religion would have been established by a miracle — 

^ See Worship in Islam — translation with commentary of Al-Qhazali*« 
Book of the Ihya on the Worship, by E. 0. Calyerley. 



118 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


as it would have been deemed. Unfortunately for himself 
he took refuge in the guard-room, whence he was taken out 
again and the sentence was carried out.^ 

The theory generally given of this remarkable occurrence 
is that the shots from the rifles cut the rope that bound 
the Bab but left him uninjured. 

After his death the new doctrine spread rapidly and the 
poor Babists suffered terrible persecutions. In Teheran a 
veritable reign of terror began. No mercy was shown to 
the Babists, and their dead bodies filled the streets for days. 
To-day the number of Babists in Persia is said to be about 
a million. They are to be found in every walk of life from 
the highest ministers of the Court to the humblest of the 
poor. In persecution they remained firm and scarcely any 
recanted under threat or promise. 

The Babists were now divided into two sects under two 
leaders, Mirza Yahya and his half-brother, Beha’ullah. 
These men fled to Baghdad and were deported by the 
Tiu’ks to Adrianople. They lived together for a time, but 
were separated by the Turks — Mirza was sent to Cyprus, 
and Beha to Acre in Palestine. The followers of Mirza 
dwindled to an insignificant number, but Abd-el-Beha’ullah 
(to give him his full title), a name meaning “ the slave of 
the splendour of God,” carried on his work from Acre and 
considerably increased his following. 

Out of the mysticism of the Shiah sect has come this new 
faith, which is not recognized by Moslems as being in any 
sense Mohammedan. Beha claimed to have been sent to 
perfect the laws of Christ and Mohammed, and his laws are 
similar to and largely based upon the New Testament. 

Babists differ from Mohammedans in believing that no 
revelation is final. (Islam has always taught that Moham- 
med gave the final and complete revelation of God to the 
world.) A new revelation is given, the Babists say, to 
each age as a preparation for the fuller teaching of Him 
whom God will reveal. 

' Sir Percy Sykes, Per$ia, p. 128. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


119 


In one of Beha’ullah’s writings we read : 

I swear by the son of Truth that the people of Beha have 
not any aim save the prosperity and reformation of the 
world, and the purifying of the nations. 

He taught the need of inner purity of life. “ Every one,” 
he said, “ who desireth victory must first subdue the city 
of his own heart with the sword of spiritual truth and of 
the Word.” 

As time went on the break with Islam became more 
apparent. Prayers were said three times a day instead of 
five. Worshippers gave up turning to Mecca in prayer. 
Slavery was forbidden. Polygamy was discouraged. 
Forgiveness of one’s enemies became a rule of life. The 
followers were enjoined to adopt an attitude of friendliness 
towards people of all religions : from the testimony of 
those who have known them best, they have sought to 
live up to their creed. 

We have seen that Persia, after suffering untold horrors 
through a Moslem invasion, accepted Islam and enriched 
it with new and mystical elements. National crdture 
struggled with Islam and some in Persia turned in disgust 
to a philosophical agnosticism, while others found relief 
in ascetic practices. National culture triumphed and the 
deism of the desert was lost in the theism of Persian 
thought, which finds expression in a personal experience 
of God through love. The Babists sought to carry the 
idea of a divine revelation still further and suffered all 
the terrors of persecution from a fanatical people, but they 
held on imtil persecution ceased and Babism foimd a place 
in national life. Out of it springs the further development 
of Beha’ism, which seeks to apply in a practical way the 
mystic love of the Sufis, and to preach a gospel of brother- 
hood to the world. 

Beha’ullah has given his followers many practical rules 
of life widely different from those in Islam, and by them 
he marks also his distinctive message as something not 



120 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

trammelled entirely by the mystics of the past nor by 
the customs of Mohammedans. Although he has drawn 
largely upon Christianity for much that is novel in this 
sect, yet he shows his Islamic background by his sanction 
of polygamy and by easy divorce. He differs in one 
important respect from Islam in this. Either party can 
claim a divorce after a separation of a year. His insistence 
upon the equality of the sexes is a marked advance upon 
Islamic morals. He claimed Divine inspiration for his 
utterances in much the same way that Mohammed did, 
and the followers of Beha must accept every utterance 
made by him without reserve. This new doctrine is based 
upon Beha as a manifestation of God, and therefore the 
firet duty of his followers is to attain to “ a knowledge of 
the Dayspring of His revelation and the Dawning-place of 
His command.” 

The Behai conception of God is widely different from 
Mohammed’s. “ God is not a personality but an essence, 
an all-pervading force or power frequently referred to as 
love or truth or life.” 

“ A messenger comes whenever, through the lapse of 
time and the forgetfulness of men, the voice of his pre- 
decessor becomes obscured ; and the extent to which the 
truth is declared by each depends upon the capacity of the 
age to receive it. Such messengers were Moses, Zoroaster, 
Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, and the founder of the Behai 
faith. The revelation of the last is fuller than any which 
has preceded it, men being now better fitted to understand 
the truth.” ^ The human soul, says Abbas Effendi, the 
successor to Beha’ullah, is a ray of God’s love. The soul 
seeks to attain ultimate perfection when it passes beyond 
time, place and form and is man and God in one. Past 
religions are regarded as dead forms, and all that is good 
in them has been revealed in this new body. The Behai 
therefore looks upon his founder as a world teacher without 
limit of race or nation. The programme of the Behais is 

* 8m Pli*lp’» Abbas Sffendi, p. 169. Quoted bp E. Sell, in Bdhaism, p. 43. 



MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 


121 


ambitious for it seeks to gather together all races by the 
acceptance of Beha’ullah as the last manifestation of God 
and the Divine guide for the unification of all religions* 
Here we get back to something of Mohammed’s own ideal, 
but there is a difference. -Universal religion in this new 
faith is based upon love, peace and harmony among all 
nations. 

The Moslem mystics in their wild flights of imagination 
have refused to be trammelled by tradition and have 
claimed the right of private judgment even where it con- 
flicts with the orthodox standards of Islam. This has 
created a mentality widely different from that of the 
Arab, and some of the by-products of Persian thought are 
seen in the determination of many Moslems to apply 
liberty of thought to modern demands. Mohammedans 
used to consider people of other faiths as outside the scope 
of God’s mercy, but with the varied forms of religion, from 
the Shiahs to the Sufis and the Babists to the Behais, the 
attitude of many is changing to that of a common search 
for truth in co-operation with religious people of other 
faiths. There is a general dissatisfaction with things as 
they are. Some are looking back to Zoroastrianism, some 
seek to find their goal in Behaism, others, as in the days 
of the Abbasides, are drifting towards rationalism ; among 
the intelligentsia there is a desire to reform Islam, to revise 
its system and once more to evolve a faith that will meet 
human needs. Peoples which in the past have produced 
great mystics and have sought to find God along the 
lines of spiritual experience, are not going to be content 
with the husks of a past religion. The spiritual search that 
characterized so many centuries was a demand for life, 
and in these days of western influences and change the de- 
mand is still for life. Can Islam meet such a situation ? 



CHAPTER VII 


ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 

While on a journey through Palestine at the end of the 
war I came across a man ploughing. He was a simple 
peasant, dressed as Arab fellaheen have been for thousands 
of years. He might have been a son of any age of the 
Christian era or even before, and he was busy covering over 
the scars of a war-torn country by filling in trenches, 
levelling and ploughing. The native plough was primitive 
indeed — ^it was a long shaft of wood shaped like the letter 
Y lying on its side. The tail of the letter ran along the 
backs of a camel and a mule. One tip of the Y was formed 
into a handle and the other tip was touching the ground 
and acted as the ploughshare. A further glance at this 
crude implement showed the share to be shod with iron — 
nay, not iron, but the steel blade of a cavalry sword picked 
up from a neighbouring battlefield. In the peasant’s hand 
was a goad with a sharp nail at one end, which he ad- 
ministered impartially to camel and mule alike, with simul- 
taneous imprecations on their stupidity, and prayers to 
Allah for the harvest. 

Here was illustrated what has taken place in many parts 
of the Moslem world. The fellah had but a short time 
before been a soldier in the Turkish army : he had been 
lifted out of an isolated and conservative environment to 
fight. He had been drawn along with others into the 
whirlpool of the nations, and when the war was over he 
returned to his ancestral home to make good the waste 
places and to adapt whatever came to hand as a help to 
this end. His old barriers had been broken down. The 
ploughshare was the first step in many momentous changes, 
in 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 128 


These people are emerging into a new world of western 
influence, education and science. Primitive methods are 
being replaced by western machinery. The simile may 
perhaps be carried a stage further. The sword-shod plough 
is like western influence ploughing deep into the soil of 
Arab custom and tradition. The plough, after all, was but 
making furrows and channels for irrigation, through which 
could pour the waters of the Jordan, and surely the war, 
too, in its ploughing has made new avenues through which 
might flow the waters of a new and fuller life. The cast- 
iron system of Islam has cracked badly, and education, 
literature, and learning are pouring in through the cracks 
a wealth of new ideas that are significant of greater changes 
in the days to come. The mule and the camel were un- 
equally yoked — ^the yoke, slant-wise, chafed the neck of 
the one and bore heavily on the other ; yet both animals 
sought to tread the same path. Orthodox Islam often 
appears mulish in its obstinacy, while the progressive 
modernist, with camel-like superiority, presses his new 
ideas on all and sundry. Both are ploughing in their own 
ways. Both are making the face of the earth different. 
Behind both animals followed the man with the goad, 
guiding the plough and keeping up the pace by a 
vigorous thrust as one or other beast slackened. To those 
turning over the soil of Islam western impacts serve for 
goads. They are being driven on by new forces towards 
a goal which they but dimly see. Nowhere is this better 
illustrated than in Turkey, where Islam was entrenched with 
all the authority of sultan-caliph, law and order, and where 
the plough of western life has cut deep into customs and 
practices and is rapidly changing the face of the country. 

The story begins in the thirteenth century with a nomadic 
tribe which, because of the advancing Mongol hordes, was 
driven from its camping groimds in Khorasan and made 
its way westward into Armenia. This tribe allied them- 
selves to the Seljuks in opposing the Mongol advance, and 
as a reward were given rich lands in Asia Minor on which 



124 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

to settle. By the end of the thirteenth century the tribe 
had gained complete independence from the Seljuks, and 
in 1295, when Othman, as a new ruler, had his name men* 
tinned in the Friday prayers, the Ottoman empire was 
founded. The word Ottoman is, of course, a corruption of 
Othman, the founder of the dynasty. Each successive 
sultan at his enthronement was girded with the sword of 
Othman, and from 1295 to 1924 the succession of Ottoman 
Sultans was unbroken. 

As territory was conquered nomadic habits were broken. 
The Turks hitherto had been dependent for their troops 
upon the heads of the clans who supplied their quota 
in time of war. This system had been both the strength 
and weakness of Arabia. Disputes among the clans made 
the position of the Sultan precarious, and the Turks decided 
to change the system. Christian towns in Asia Minor 
had been captured and the strong and healthy Christian 
boys were collected and formed into a corps. Every year 
a thousand of these lads were drafted into the new Tmkish 
army. They were brought up as Moslems under an iron 
discipline and, cut off from homes, parents, and country, 
they were hardened into a military brotherhood, which 
formed the great bulwark of the Turkish empire. 

Tiurkish penetration to the Bosphorus was rapid and 
easy, and eastern Europe fell a prey to the savage hordes 
who invaded Christian homes and dragged out men and 
women, boys and girls, to be sold to the highest bidder in 
the open market. An unholy alliance was formed with 
the Emperor Cantacuzemus of Constantinople, who gave 
his daughter Theodora in marriage to the Sultan Orkhan, 
thus marking the first stage in the downfall of the B}rzan* 
tine Empire. 

While as yet Constantinople was spared, Serbia by the 
middle of the thirteenth century had become a Turkish 
pashalik, and continued so for over three hundred years. 
The Turks in those days showed a fanatical fury against 
the Christian population and a religious zeal in the found* 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 125 

ing of Dervish orders. An open slave-trade with its hor- 
rors, and the wholesale slaughter of prisoners of war in cold 
blbod were accepted practices. After the battle of Nico- 
polis (1896) Bayazid, the Sultan, after selecting twenty- 
four knights for ransom, slew ten thousand prisoners of 
war — ^knights, squires, and soldiers — ^in revenge for the 
Moslems slain in Wtle. The siege of Constantinople began 
at the beginning of the fifteenth century, but a new power, 
in the person of Timm (Tamerlane), appeared on the 
eastern horizon. Bayazid hurried across Asia Minor, and 
at Angora met Timur and was utterly routed. The 
Turkish empire, built up by the patience, ability and 
skill of successive sultans, was in a day shattered and 
ruined. The Sultan, who was captured in the fight, was 
imprisoned in an iron cage and carried from place to place 
in Timur’s train. 

To all outward appearances the rule of the Turks had 
come to an end ; but the most astounding thing in the 
Turk is his vitality and power of recovery after defeat. 
Time after time the doom of the Turks has been pro- 
nounced, disaster has engulfed the empire, and always 
have the Turks risen, rejuvenated and powerful as ever. 
Timm laid Tmkey waste, but he could not overthrow 
those characteristics which have always made it impos- 
sible for a Tmk to know when he is defeated. By the 
middle of the fifteenth centmy Turkey had so far recovered 
as to be able to embark again on a new career of conquest. 
Salonica was captmed, and its chmches turned into 
mosques. Eastern Europe was once more invaded, but 
the Emperor’s appeal to Emope for aid met with little 
response. The Latin Chmch aimed at the absorption of 
the Greek Orthodox Chmch, and made as a condition of 
its support the acceptance of the Roman Creed. The 
Greeks, rather than fall into the hands of the Pope, made 
alliance with the Tmks, and the schism between the 
Christian bodies of East and West broke the one force 
that could withstand Islamic aggression. 



12e THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Thus events moved forward until 1458, when Con- 
stantinople was again invested by a Turkish army. The 
sieg^ lasted for fifty-three days, and then the great capital 
of eastern Christendom fell into the hands of a Turkish 
force. This was another turning-point in Moslem history. 
Islam had now an historical capital, a military strategic 
centre, and a naval base in Europe. It was at this time 
that the title The Sublime Porte came to be used for the 
seat of the Tiurkish government. Ambitions and hopes 
for the conquest of Eiuope ran high, and preparations were 
made for a great advance. The Sultan now aimed at the 
capture of Rome as a further step in the overthrow of 
Christianity. 

The Sultan Mohammed is not only famous for his cap- 
ture of Constantinople but also for his literary productions. 
The Institutes of Mohammed depict the Moslem empire 
under the symbol of a great tent, in which the four pillars 
represent the viziers, the judges, the treasurers, and the 
secretaries. The same Institutes lay it down as a com- 
mendable custom that when a sultan ascends the throne he 
should immediately put his brothers to death. This was 
long the practice in Tmkey, and the accession of a new 
sultan was generally marked by the wholesale slaughter of 
his near kinsmen and other possible rivals. 

In the early part of the sixteenth century Egypt became 
a province of Turkey, and another momentous change 
marked this addition to the Ottoman empire. The Ab- 
baside Caliph had resided in Cairo, but the Sultan of Turkey 
could brook no rival, and by force he compelled the Caliph 
to transfer his office and authority of the caliphate to 
him. The sacred banner and mantle of the Prophet were 
conveyed to Constantinople, and the Sultan became de facto 
Caliph. In course of time this dual office, over a large 
part of the Moslem world, has also come to be recognized 
de jure. This transference of the caliphate was marked 
by the Sultan Salim by the massacre of forty thousand 
Moslem Shiahs as heretics, and an order for the general 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EBfPIRE 127 

slaughter of the Christians, which mercifully, through the 
intercessions of the Sheikh of Islam, was not carried out. 

Before the sixteenth century closed Moslem armies had 
advanced as far as the gates of Vienna, and most of eastern 
Europe was dominated by. Turkey. Italy had been in- 
vaded and Otranto captured, Baghdad and Mesopotamia 
were added to the empire. North Africa had also pro- 
vided Turkey with new provinces. The Turks had risen 
in meteor-like fashion from being a fugitive nomadic tribe 
to being the founders of a great empire which extended 
from the Sudan through Egypt and North Africa, and 
included Mesopotamia, Palestine, Syria, Armenia, and 
most of eastern Europe. They stood at the zenith of their 
power. Europe was hemmed in, the trade routes closed, 
the Mediterranean controlled by a Turkish fleet, and the 
highway to the East barred by an implacable foe which 
had sworn to conquer the world. The greatest prize of all 
seemed within Turkey’s grasp — ^the conquest of western 
and central Eiurope. The church bells rang daily in every 
tovm in Germany for intercessions and prayers that the 
Moslem menace might be averted. 

Europe was stirred at last to the peril of the situation, 
and yet even in this critical hour the heads of states were 
slow in moving, and to the people of Vienna and the Polish 
force that went to their rescue lies the honour of having 
saved all Europe from disaster. In 1688 Mohammed IV 
set out with an army of four hundred thousand men to 
attack Vienna and to crush the Christian nations. Had the 
Turks pressed the attack at once they could have entered 
Vienna, for the defences were poor, but by one of those 
curious ttims of fortune which history reveals, the Turks 
delayed in pressing the attack while they laid waste the 
surrounding country. The delay gave Vienna its oppor- 
tunity, and the whole population worked night and day at 
the defences. For two long months the Turks assaulted 
the city, and were everywhere repulsed. Mines were met 
by counter-mines, and heroic deeds were done by the 



128 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

diminishin g garrison in Vienna. With depleted resources 
they could not hold out much longer. Poland was send- 
ing relief — but would it arrive in time ? Sickness and 
famine stalked through the city, but still the people refused 
to surrender. With their backs to the wall they were 
fighting a battle for all Europe, and the future of thrones 
and empires was in the balance. At last John Sobieski, 
King of Poland, arrived with eighty thousand fresh troops, 
and on September 12th, 1688, inflicted a crushing defeat 
upon the IWks. 

The King of Poland, in his address to the troops before 
the battle, said : 

Warriors and friends ! Yonder in the plains are our 
enemies. We have to fight them on a foreign soil, but we 
fight for our own country, and under the walls of Vienna 
we are defending those of Warsaw and Cracow. We have 
to save to-day, not a single city, but the whole of 
Christendom, of which the city of Vienna is the bulwark.^ 

This was the last great effort of Txurkey to capture 
Europe. The seventeenth century had seen Turkey rise 
to the zenith of its power with an empire in three con- 
tinents, and it also witnessed the first stages of its decline 
and fall. From this date the story of Tmkey is one of a 
waning power and a shrinking empire. 

The eighteenth century for Tmkey was a period of feuds 
and wars with Russia. In 1774 the Turks were defeated 
by Russia, and a heavy blow was thus struck at Ottoman 
prestige. The Crimea was declared to be independent. 
Moldavia and Wallachia also became semi-independent 
states. 

In the early part of the nineteenth century Serbia gained 
complete autonomy. Greek autonomy was granted in 
1827. Mohammed Ali Pasha, the Governor of Eg)qpt, 
forced Turkey to grant semi-independence to Egypt, imder 
himself as Khedive. Serbia, Montenegro, and Rumania 
* Stanley lAne-Poole, Tvrhty, p. 247. 



ISLAM AND TBBE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 129 

had by 1878 declared their independence* A process of 
disintegration went on until 1908, when the Young Turks 
revolted, deposed Abdul Hamid II, and set up a constitu- 
tion. This did not prevent still further inroads being 
made upon Turkish territory. In November 1911 Italy 
annexed Tripoli, and in 1918 the Balkan War broke 
out, which still further reduced the size of Turkey in 
Europe. 

Islam, as we have seen, has changed its colour according 
to the country in which it has taken root. The great trek 
of Mongols, Seljuks and Turks is an historical event that, 
apart altogether from Islam, would have affected the 
West. The Islamizing of these earlier nomads welded 
them together, and out of warring tribes arose a nation 
with a book, a law, and a religion. The nation expanded 
into an empire, and Islam became the dominant faith 
throughout the Near East. All the countries thus occu- 
pied have great historical backgrounds and cultures of their 
ovm, and in most cases a faith in open conflict with Islam. 
The Turks started with eastern traditions and with a social 
system far different from that of Europe. They accepted 
the Koran as the one guide in religious, social and other 
matters. They inflicted the death penalty on all who 
deserted the faith. They entrenched themselves, as far 
as possible, against the possible influences of the West. 
But civilization was too far advanced for Islam to impose 
the Arabic language on European countries. Western life 
and thought pressed in upon Turkey, and although a rigid 
orthodoxy, supported by a despotic sultan, kept the Turks 
in servitude to Islam, yet the leaven of modem thought 
could not be kept out, and it increasingly permeated the 
life of the people. 

Turkey to-day is casting off the traditions of the past, 
and is racing at the speed of an express train towards 
westernization. A new era in Turkish life and thought is 
emerging from the vortex of old Turkish customs, tradi- 
tions, beliefs, and ambitions. We set out therefore to 


1 



180 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

study how a nation, under the very heel of a despotic 
sultan, backward in education, toancially bankrupt, 
riddled with abuses of heavy taxation, bribery, and cor- 
ruption, shackled to a conservative Arab creed which 
banned as pernicious all progressive thought outside 
Islam, and rooted in traditions with an eastern back- 
ground, could change within a generation into a republic, 
forget its pan-Islamic dreams, break away from Koranic 
rules and customs, depose its sultan and caliph, recreate 
a new national consciousness thoroughly Turkish, and set 
out on a policy of complete westernization for the country. 

From the time when the Turkish armies were rolled back 
from the gates of Vienna the Turks bitterly resented defeat 
by a western force. Later on they found it far more 
humiliating to be beaten by eastern Christian people, and 
their statesmen saw that if Turkey were to hold its own 
against the West it must adopt western methods. 

For this reason the first western infiuences in the nine- 
teenth centmy were all on the military side. Turkish 
reformers, while they retained a despotic Sultan, sought 
to introduce western efficiency in military affairs. The 
West, they argued, could only be fought with its own 
weapons, and Turkey in the nineteenth century, with 
Russia on the one side and the Balkan States on the other 
pressing her all the time, was struggling for her very exist- 
ence. The superiority of the western military engine was 
admitted, but Turkey sought at first to attain a military 
efficiency equal to the West without acquiring the whole 
western way of life. As a set-off against western thought 
Islam was exalted, and to counteract western aggression 
Abdul Hamid sought, through a pan-Islamic policy, to 
imite all Moslems in a league of self-defence. The caliphate 
was made the slogan of this movement. The Tiurks were 
the defenders of the faith, the Sultan the head of Islam, 
and every political crisis was viewed firom the standpoint 
of a holy war, in which the world of Islam would rise in 
defence of the faith. 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 181 

The Sultan, in adopting these tactics, was playing upon 
a deeply rooted Moslem sentiment as old as Islam itself. 
Pan-Islamism stood for the solidarity of all true believers. 
It proclaimed a universal brotherhood, and to give sub- 
stance to this theory the pilgrimage to Mecca was em- 
phasized as one great means of illustrating the unity and 
solidarity of Islam. At the Kaaba in Mecca men of all 
races met. On equal footing they performed their devo- 
tions, and dreamed of the day when Islam would be the 
one world-religion. We have already seen how at the 
same time a puritan Mohammedan revival was taking 
place in Arabia, and new religious forces were being 
developed, which the astute Sultan was alert enough to 
recognize as of military importance, and to use for his own 
political ends. The caliphate was exalted in every way 
possible and a movement was started in India for its 
defence. If British policy appeared to impinge in the 
slightest de^ee on Turkey, rumblings were heard in 
India. As pan-Islamism developed it assumed a definitely 
anti-western character. Sporadic outbursts of Islamic 
fanaticism occurred in the Sudan and other places, but 
the Turks were too near EUu'ope to be infiuenced by these. 
They saw that if they were to fight the West it must be 
with all the skill and resources available in Europe. 

The Dervish orders, such as the Sennousi in North Africa, 
were caught by the glittering vision, and a great wave of 
proselytizing zeal spread through the Moslem world. In 
Africa, Islam made great strides. In India, Moslems 
awoke from their lethargy and set up educational institu- 
tions of far-reaching influence. In China in 1870 the 
Moslems rebelled, and fought in Hunan fiercely for their 
independence until they were finally subdued and crushed 
by the Chinese govenunent. These movements were 
followed with close interest by Abdul Hamid, the Sultan 
of Turkey. Moslem agitators travelled everywhere warn- 
ing their co-religionists of the peril of western domination. 
Sayed Jamal-el-Din was a leading propagandist in this 



182 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

movement. After travelling in India, Egypt and else* 
where on Islamic propaganda, he settled in Turkey, and 
from there conducted his campaign imtil he was poisoned 
by order of the Sultan. He taught that the Christian 
world was opposed to Islam and was working for its 
destruction. The spirit of the Crusades still existed, he 
declared, and Europe regarded Islam with hatred and 
contempt. To counteract this he advocated a great 
defensive alliance to save Islam from destruction. 

Abdul Hamid, nursing his cherished dreams of world 
conquest, sought to play off one European nation against 
another, and, for thirty years, through the agency of 
hundreds of emissaries, he carried out his political schemes 
with considerable astuteness for the strengthening of 
Turkey’s position in the eyes of the world. In doing all 
this he completely overlooked the fact that his despotism 
at home was a closing of the safety-valve. While he 
dreamed of conquests in other lands, he failed to set his 
own house in order. His efforts to adopt western military 
methods had brought into Turkey many other novel ideas 
too, and the young educated Turks began to agitate for 
reforms in Tturkey — for a constitution and a parliament ; 
in other words, these western contacts led to the birth 
of nationalism in Turkey. Islam, based as it is upon a 
brotherhood that is supposed to transcend race and 
nationality, until recent years has not encouraged nation- 
alism. The Sultan of Turkey was openly hostile to any- 
thing that would restrict his autocratic rule. The head of 
fsIn-Tn in Turkey issued decrees declaring constitutionalism 
to be contrary to Islam on the ground that the Sultan- 
Caliph must rule alone and as master. The advocates of 
nationalism were driven into seclusion and secrecy. 

At the same time as Abdul Hamid was spreading his 
pan-Islamic doctrines across the Moslem world dangerous 
national elements were growing in Constantinople; and 
while the military system of Turkey was being modelled 
on European lines the young officers were also imbibing 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EBIPIRE 188 

the doctrines of democracy and freedom. The culmina- 
tion was the national revolution of 1908. 

Nationalism in Turkey, while representing a revolt 
against the existing order, was equally a protest against 
European interferences in 'Ottoman affairs. The attitude 
of western nations appeared to the Young Tmk to be that 
of hypocritical superiority. The Europeans in the West, 
the Young Turks said, posed as democratic people and 
at the same time acted in the East with arrogant auto- 
cracy, interfering in the affairs of nations and people to 
the advantage of Europe and the commercializing of the 
Orient. Many in Turkey took this view, with the result 
that Europe came to regard the Ottoman empire as “ the 
Near Eastern Question.” The Turks felt that the situa- 
tion had become a “ question ” because of the material 
greed of Eiurope. The diplomacy of the West was given 
an ugly colour by European rivalries and jealousies, and 
the efforts of different powers to gain influence in Turkish 
affairs. This rivalry seemed to make Turkey itself of 
secondary consideration, and Moslems saw in European 
approaches nothing but selfish greed, which could only 
end ultimately in the subjugation of Turkey by the Chris- 
tian West. Russia saw a fruitful opening through the 
Eastern Churches, and her various efforts to claim a pro- 
tectorate over the Christians of Turkey created a national 
cleavage, which had dire results to the minorities of 
Turkey. The Sultan promised protection to his Christian 
subjects, but retaliated, when Russia pressed her claims, 
by wholesale slaughter of Armenians and others. 

The intricacies of diplomacy were woven into the 
Armenian question, and T^irkey looked upon her Christian 
subjects as a menace to her independence. Consequently, 
with all the barbarism of the old Mongol days, the Tur^ 
set out to exterminate them and thus end the ” question.” 
However much Christians of the West spoke of humani- 
tarian considerations, the Turks considered such appeals 
a mere mask for a subtle covetousness and gre^ for 



184 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


power in Turkey. The Young Turk party, while fighting 
for reforms and opposing the “ Old Turks,” found them- 
selves thwarted at every turn by the intrigues of foreign 
powers. Now the contention is that in the old days of 
Turkish power the Armenians were regarded as “ faithful 
people ” and that their faith was respected, but that when 
Europe swung the Christian population away from Turkish 
allegiance and encouraged them to disloyalty they became 
a foreign element within the nation and a menace to 
the future independence of the Ottoman empire. The 
Patriarch was looked upon as a tool of Europe, and 
the Christians as a trump card in western diplomacy. 
While nothing can excuse the cold-blooded barbarism of 
the Sultan Abdul Hamid in the Armenian massacres, we 
should not lose sight of the fact that it was to some extent 
the diplomatic intrigue of western powers in seeking to 
divide one section of the Turkish people from another, and 
to pit Christian against Moslem, that was partly respon- 
sible for the rebirth of a national consciousness as against 
an Islamic consciousness. Previously, the whole emphasis 
had been on a pan-Islamic ideal centred in a Turkish 
caliphate, and this conception did not necessarily allow of 
any strong Turkish sentiment. Racial feelings were sub- 
ordinated to credal responsibilities. But in 1908 the 
Young Turks began a movement which aimed at a united 
and strong nation, based upon Turkish nationalism, quite 
irrespective of creed or religion. 

A group of young men, in an almost impossible en- 
vironment, were wrestling with a great idea, learnt from 
contact with European thought and literature. Hitherto 
their history had been simply the history of Islam, in 
which Turkey played a part. The glory of their ancestors 
was the glory of Mohammed, who was not a Turk at all. 
The Young Turks, therefore, raised a new slogan, Turkey 
for the Turks, by which they sought to develop a new race 
consciousness quite distinct from previous Islamic beliefr.^ 

^ See Memoirs of Halidi Edib, pp. 312-20. 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 185 

Nationalism was to unite in a new loyalty Mohammedans, 
Christians, and Jews in Tiukey in a great endeavour to 
save their country for democracy. Something of the spirit 
of this ideal was caught in many, even distant, parts of 
the Turkish empire. In large towns young men — ^Jews, 
Christians and Moslems — ^joined hands and marched 
through the streets to the cry of liberty, equality, fraternity. 
People rubbed their eyes with amazement as they watched 
these processions. Some scoffed sceptically and thought 
it all a game, but behind it lay the desire for a united 
Turkey, imder a democratic government, presenting a 
solid front against western aggression. Turkish history was 
now taught from the Turkish rather than from the Islamic 
point of view. Pride of race was fostered as distinct from 
pride of religion. Patriotism was to replace fanaticism. 

The Turkish language had been studied anew, and 
succeeded so well that within a generation students had 
created a simplified Turkish, which came to be used almost 
exclusively by joiuiialists and others. Democracy seemed 
to the enthusiastic Turks the panacea for all the ills of the 
“ red Sultan’s ” misrule. Men were inspired with new hopes 
for the future of Turkey. Like all other similar movements, 
the revolution depended upon the personal moral char- 
acter of the leaders and upon there being sufficient moral 
stamina in the nation to make effective the lead given by 
the new heads of the state. The great mass of the people 
were illiterate, the country was groaning under heavy 
taxation, officials were steeped in bribery and corruption, 
the treasury was empty, and Eiuropean creditors were 
clamouring at the offices of the government for their due 
dividends. In the midst of a very complicated situation 
the Young Turks failed to make good. Taxation xmder the 
new regime, because of past commitments, was much the 
same. Bribery and corruption went on because the same 
type of officials were in office as in the days of Abdul Hamid. 
The early hopes of a new unity were shattered, partly by the 
uprush of Moslem propaganda to defend the faith against 



186 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Christian and other influences, and partly through the 
deeply rooted distrust of the Christian population by the 
Moslem rulers. The call for national and racial solidarity 
met with a poor response, as the Christians felt that it 
would be safer to trust western powers than to throw in 
their lot with a new Turkish nationalism. Gradually the 
revolution was proved to be but the old order under a 
new name. Ideals were not realized, for nationhood 
could not be born in a day. 

Into this already complicated situation came the further 
factor of the position in Europe — the grouping of the 
powers and the rivalry in armaments. Many of the Young 
Turks were educated in Germany, and imperialism rapidly 
took the place of democracy. The leaders in Turkey came 
more and more under Teutonic influence, and in order to 
consolidate their power, they threw to the wind the ideal 
of racial solidarity for the sake of the old pan-Islamic ideal 
of Abdul Hamid. Thus it came about that in 1914, when 
Turkey entered the wax on the German side, the Young 
Turks were found to be the advocates of a holy war and 
a strong Islamic policy. A treaty was concluded between 
Germany and Turkey according to which Germany under- 
took, in the event of victory, to create an immense Moslem 
empire extending from Constantinople to India and em- 
bracing Egypt, Persia, and the Caucasus, thus fulfilling 
the dream which Abdul Hamid for over a generation had 
sought to make actual. 

The first step after the declaration of war was to con- 
vince the whole Moslem world that this war against 
Hussia, England and France was a jihad (holy war). A 
fetwa (religious decree) was promulgated by the heads of 
the faith declaring a jihad against the Entente powers. 
This was an astute move, as the btilk of Moslems in the 
world were subjects of the three powers concerned. 
Europe had always been nervous of the holy war threat. 
Pan-Islamic leaders had made a great boast of Moslem 
solidarity. The jihad was a complete failure. Beyond a 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 187 


few risings, which had small effect on the- war, the Moslem 
world refused to accept as a jihad a war that was being 
fought with, as Islam termed it, “ infidel ” Germany for 
an ally. A jihad is a religious war against unbelievers. 
In modem Moslem literature it is always spoken of as for 
defensive purposes only when the faith is threatened, 
Moslems now claim that a jihad is never aggressive, and 
are putting forward a new theory to suit the spirit of the 
age rather than aiming at historical accuracy. The jihad 
is established in both the Koran and the Traditions as a 
duty divinely imposed upon all Moslems for the purpose 
of spreading Islam as well as of defending the faith. The 
verses in the Koran about jihad are to be found in the' 
chapters given at Medina, after Mohammed had taken up 
the sword for propaganda purposes I 

The Koran, chap. 9, v. 5-6, says : “ Kill those who join 
other gods with God wherever ye shall find them ; besiege 
them, and lay wait for them every kind of ambush : but 
if they shall convert and observe prayer, and pay the 
obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is 
Gracious, Merciful.” 

That the jihad was to be used to make Islam world-wide 
and to exterminate all other faiths is clear from the follow- 
ing verse (Koran, chap. 8, v. 89-42) : ” Say to the infidels : 
If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall 
be forgiven them ; but if they return to it they have 
already before them the doom of the ancients f Fight 
then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion 
be all of it God’s.” The method of procedure was for the 
Moslems to call upon a nation or people to accept Islam. 
If they refused, then God, by the sword, must decide 
between them. God’s command was for them to be 
attacked and subdued. The early aggressive expansion of 
Islam was a jihad. The attacks on Palestine, Egypt, and 
North Africa could in no sense be called defensive measures. 
They were unwarranted acts of aggression to feed Islamic 
imperialistic ambitions. 



188 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Turkey began the war of 1914-1918 by an appeal to the 
Koran wid the Traditions, by seeking to rouse all the latent 
fanaticism of the Moslem world against the infidel, but 
Tiurkey had a past history as well as Islam, and many 
countries remembered only too well all that they had 
suffered at the hands of the Turks. The racial feelings 
between Arabs and Turks asserted themselves, and the 
Arabs rose in rebellion and fought on the side of the allies 
against the Turks ! It was hoped to rouse the Egyptians 
to rebellion, but, in spite of a widespread propaganda 
throughout the valley of the Nile, no one stirred. Turkey 
made her attack on Egypt and was driven back, and 
Egypt remained calm and quiet. Throughout this period 
Indian Moslems fought side by side with the British troops 
against the Turks, and before the first year of the war was 
ended it was clear that the bubble of pan-Islamism had 
been pricked. It had been a great theory, and, in an 
earlier age, it might have succeeded ; but the thirty years 
that had witnessed the development of the pan-Islamic 
movement had also been marked by progress in other 
directions. Education had gone ahead by leaps and 
bounds, nationalism had become a watchword, world 
politics were coming to be viewed more from the stand- 
point of the interests of a nation than of the interests of 
Islam. Tiukey, by her corruption and abuses, had lost 
the confidence of many leading Moslems, and the Yoimg 
Turk Party, however loud in their professions, were known 
to be largely agnostic in their views. 

In 1918, when the Armistice was signed, all hopes of a 
great Moslem empire were shattered. Pan-Islamism had 
failed completely. The war had demonstrated that the 
solidarity of Islam was a myth and a delusion ; however 
strongly they might hold their faith, people placed their 
own personal and national interests above those of their 
faith. 

Tittkey was broken and beaten, and its empire under- 
went a stUl fiurther process of contraction. Syria, Palestine, 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 189 

and Mesopotamia were lost to Turkey. Arabia’s in- 
dependence was confirmed. Cyprus and Eg 3 rpt were cut 
free from the nominal ownership of Turkey. Nothing was 
left of the once far-flung Ottoman empire but Asia Minor. 
An empire that had been as ^at and as powerful as that 
of Assyria, Persia, and Rome had vanished. The country 
was impoverished and demoralized. The crushing defeat 
of the war had brought nothing but despair to Constan- 
tinople, and the condition of Turkey was desperate and 
apparently hopeless. Mr Stanley Lane-Poole, writing, of 
course, some years before the war, said : 

The most astonishing characteristic of the rule of the 
Turks is its vitality. Again and again its doom has been 
pronounced by wise prophets and still it survives. Pro- 
vince after province has been cut off the empire, and yet 
the Sultan sits supreme over wide dominions, and is 
reverenced or feared by subjects of many races. Con- 
sidering how little of the great qualities of the ruler the 
Turk has often possessed, how little trouble he takes to 
conciliate the subjects whom his sword has subdued, it is 
amazing how firm has been his authority, how unshaken 
his power. ^ 

When 1918 closed the world thought that Turkey’s star 
had set for ever. Nothing, it was said, could lift the Turk 
up again, and yet all Europe once more miscalculated 
Ottoman vitality, and forgot the lessons of the past. The 
Turk is never so great as when he is in a desperate position 
with the odds heavily against him, and with his back to 
the wall. 

The first signs of new life came through the emergence 
of a genuine national spirit. The Turkish leaders threw 
over the dreams of pan-lslamism, and set out on a policy 
with defined and limited aims. The war had touched 
actual Turkish soil very little, but with the landing of the 
Greek troops in Asia Minor, all Turkey rose to defend the 
fatherland. The conditions of Europe, war-weary and 

^ S. Lane-Poole, Turkey^ p. 74. 



140 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

exhausted, helped the Turks. The rivalries and jealousies 
that had manifested themselves in the Peace Conferences 
were again an asset to Turkey. The Bolshevik revolution 
in Russia had turned an implacable foe into a friend and 
ally. Thus in 1919, when Mustapha Kemal Pasha came 
forward with a scheme to save his country, many condi- 
tions were favourable to his success. It was not, however, 
a combination of fortuitous circumstances that won the 
day, but the heroic faith and coinage of a man who dared 
to defy his own Sultan, his government and the allied 
powers. The Treaty of Sevres was denounced by Mustapha 
Kemal, who retired to Angora to consolidate his plans. 
The defeat of the Greek armies and the capture of Smyrna 
by the Tmks made former treaties worthless, and Mus- 
tapha Kemal, who, in the eyes of the law, was a rebel, 
became virtually the ruler of the country, and compelled 
Europe to negotiate with him direct. 

To understand what follows in Turkish history we should 
remember that, although the Young Turk party had been 
captiured for imperial ambitions by a western power, yet 
tho old ideal of nationalism on its racial side had not died, 
and Mustapha Kemal and his colleagues were now able to 
review the revolution of 1908 in a clearer light. They 
could trace out from its inception where the movement 
had failed, and there is no doubt that they saw the secret 
of failure in the influence of a western power which had 
dominated Turkish policy. They had failed because 
nationalism had been submerged in a pan-Islamic policy, 
and because Turkey, on its political side, had been asso- 
ciated with the Moslem world. It was natural, therefore, 
that the first reaction to the disaster of the war should be 
an awakened nationalism. In this the Christian minori- 
ties again came under review. In the eyes of Mustapha 
Kemal and others they had failed and had demonstrated 
their distrust of Ottoman democracy. Consequently, in 
reviving nationalism, Islam was reduced from the position 
of a political organism to being a religious force, and at the 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 141 

same time the Christian minorities were persecuted as 
being an obstacle to the great objective of a united Turkey. 
So much perhaps may be said in excuse for the policy of 
exterminating Christian minorities ; yet, in fairness to 
facts, it must be stated th&t, in spite of the boasted new 
nationalism and modernization of Turkey, the old policy 
of wiping out by cold-blooded calculated cruelty whole 
areas of Christian populations still continued under the 
new regime of Mustapha Kemal. During the war Christian 
towns were invaded by the Moslem soldiery, the young 
men were conscripted into the army, and the young women 
were taken to Turkish markets and sold as slaves for the 
harems. In a government blue-book on this subject 
Commander G. Gorrini, late Italian Consul-General at 
Trebizond, made the following statement : 

There were about 14,000 Armenians in Trebizond, 
Gregorians, Catholics and Protestants. They had never 
caused disorder, or given occasion for corrective measures 
of the police. When I left Trebizond not a hundred of 
them remained. The passing of the gangs of Armenian 
exiles, their prayers for help, the lamentations, suicides, 
instantaneous deaths from sheer terror, the sudden unhing- 
ing of men’s reason, the shooting of victims in the city, the 
hundreds of corpses found every day along an exile road, 
the children torn from their families and from Christian 
schools and handed over by force to Moslem families, or 
else placed by hundreds on board ship in nothing but 
shirts and then capsized and drowned in the Black Sea — 
these are my last ineffaceable memories of Trebizond.^ 

The story of the massacres of Christians both during the 
war and since Mustapha Kemal came into power are too 
well authenticated to be denied. The enslavement of 
Christian girls in Moslem harems has been a common 
practice since the war. The girls whose parents had been 
killed were sold into slavery. They were branded with 
Moslem tribal marks, and frequently compelled to become 
^ Quoted in The Slave Market News, July 1925. 



142 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

Moslems. We see in all this the curious mixtiure of good 
and evil which was so marked a feature in Mohammed’s 
own life, and which has been a characteristic of Islam ever 
since. In the despotic days of Abdul Hamid it might be 
possible to understand a ruthless monster committing 
such atrocities, but in these post-war days, when Turkey 
has gained complete independence and is professing to be 
modern, civilized and cultured, it is difficult to see why, 
on any ground whatever, the Turkish government allows 
such things to go on. They stamp as barbarous a people 
who are to-day seeking emancipation and progress. It is 
not enough to argue that many of these things have the 
sanction of Moslem custom for hundreds of years. Mus- 
tapha Kemal sits very loose to custom and tradition when 
it suits him, and if Turkey is to take its place among the 
civilized nations of the world, Mustapha Kemal must see 
that liberty is administered equally to all his subjects, and 
that justice is not left to the mob rule of an unpaid soldiery. 
Mohammed, as we have seen, allowed his troops to take 
to their harems such women as fell into their clutches after 
a fight. Islamic history tells of many similar deeds, but 
to-day Moslems are holding up Islam as an ideal worthy 
of a civilized world. Can they wonder that the West does 
not take seriously their propaganda when such atrocities 
are still committed in the name of Islam ? Enlightened 
Moslems plead for a better understanding between Islam 
and Christianity, but if they mean their plea to be con- 
sidered in the West they should, in the name of their 
reformed faith and modem outlook, take up this question 
and demonstrate their sincerity. 

We must pause now to ask who was the man who, in 
the supreme moment of his nation’s need, raised his people 
from despair to hope, led them from defeat to victory, and 
turned the disaster of the Great War into the triumph of a 
worthy peace. Mustapha Kemal was bom forty-six years 
ago in Salonica. From his youth he was destined for a 
military career, and, after passing through the military 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 148 

college, was sent to join a cavalry regiment at Damascus. 
The fact that his boyhood was spent in the Balkans was 
not without its influence upon his later life. He was 
gripped by the new national movement in the days of 
Abdul Hamid, and as a subaltern he was an ardent Young 
Turk. He was suspected by the Constantinople authori- 
ties, and his political activities brought him imprisonment 
and exile. He fought throughout both the Balkan War 
and the Great War. He made a great name for himself at 
the Dardanelles, where he held up a British force at Suvla 
Bay, and through his skill compelled the British to evacuate 
Gallipoli. 

After the war he saw that his country would be ruined 
unless he could overthrow the existing regime and drive 
the Sultan from the throne. He went post haste to Con- 
stantinople, and sought to create a new political party. 
He got himself appointed as Inspector-General of the East, 
and set out for Augora in Asia Minor, where he intended 
to make his headquarters. A National Defence Force was 
formed. Prisoners released by the British retximed as 
veterans to join Mustapha Kemal. Boat-load after boat- 
load of prisoners of war sailed up the Syrian coast, for the 
British held over a hundred thousand Turkish prisoners 
when the Armistice was signed. In all their breasts was 
the stirring of a new hope. When the Turks were asked 
what they intended to do now the war was over they had 
but one answer, which was promptly given, “ We are going 
to join Mustapha Kemal.” 

A congress was called at Erzerum in July 1919, and a 
programme drawn up for a national organization. A little 
group of trusted colleagues joined Mustapha in forming an 
executive. The national army grew, and at Angora a 
rival government to Constantinople was rapidly growing 
in power and influence. In October 1919 a national pact 
was drawn up, which really was a declaration of inde- 
pendence. In this pact they declared their policy to be 
the rights of the Arabs to independence, and expressed 



144 THE EXPANSION OF ISLMI 

their wish for this by a free vote of the people ; the security 
and protection of Constantinople, free of all European in- 
fluences, as the seat of the sultanate and the caliphate ; 
the securing of the rights of the minorities ; and the com- 
plete independence of Turkey in its national and economic 
development. 

Such a manifesto was scarcely what Europe expected 
from a broken and despairing people. Things had now 
gone so far and Mustapha Kemal had so captured the 
imagination of the people that the allied powers agreed to 
recognize the new parliament, but stipulated that it 
should meet at Constantinople under the presidency of the 
Sultan. In January 1920 the national pact was ratified 
by parliament. 

The occupation of Constantinople by the allied troops 
led to the transfer of the National Assembly once more to 
Angora. Mustapha Kemal refused to call a parliament 
again in a city “ dominated by foreigners ” where the 
people were prisoners of the allies. In 1921 “ The Law of 
Fundamental Organization ” was passed by the National 
Assembly at Angora. It stated that sovereignty belonged 
to the people only, and was no longer in the hands of a 
single Sultan. Sovereignty would be exercised by a 
Chamber of Deputies elected by the people every two years. 
All the functions of the Sultan were to be vested in the 
Assembly, and ministers were to be appointed only by the 
Assembly. Under this law the Assembly had all power to 
declare war, make peace, and sign treaties. 

The allies still misinterpreted the new spirit of national- 
ism and, in October 1922, continued to recognize the old 
regime. A note addressed by the allies to the Ottoman 
government inviting them to send delegates to the pro- 
posed Lausanne Conference brought matters to a head, 
and Mustapha Kemal, now feeling strong enough to meet 
the crisis, forced the issue, and drove the Sultan out of 
Turkey. The dual government, which had existed ever 
since 1920, was now terminated. Henceforth Emope had 



ISLAM AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 145 

to deal with one government, a united Turkey, under a 
bold and determined leader. The Treaty of Lausanne 
gave Turkey the whole of Eastern Thrace, including 
Adrianople, thus once more establishing a Turkish foothold 
in Europe. Again the politicians were at fault. The 
“ sick man had recovered, and in four years had so far 
regained his strength as to repel a Greek invasion, and to 
rise out of hopeless despair to a position where he virtually 
dictated terms to Europe. The allied armies were now 
withdrawn from Constantinople. The French had previ- 
ously (1921) evacuated Cilicia, so Turkey extended after 
Lausanne from the river Maritza in Thrace to the borders 
of Syria. The abolition of the Capitulations was recog- 
nized by the powers, and many other demands were also 
conceded. Turkey had scored a great diplomatic victory. 


K 



CHAPTER Vm 

THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM UPON OTTOMAN ISLAM 

During the war I was quartered at a large military camp 
in the desert east of Egypt. Near by were the camel 
transport lines, and day by day we watched the loading 
of the ungainly brutes as they were being prepared for a 
long trek towards the front line. The camel is a law- 
abiding and patient animal up to a point, and under the 
hand of those who know its whims and fancies gives little 
trouble ; but during the war the camel came in contact 
with westerners who had not penetrated into the subtle 
workings of eastern thought. A camel will accept a cer- 
tain weight with little protest ; increase this and gurgling 
murmurs of protest are heard. Impose upon the camel 
and add even more weight and the time soon comes when 
it takes action. 

I watched such a scene. The dogged determination of 
the British Tommy was pitted against the superior skill 
of an unaffectionate camel. The Tommy, anxious to get 
on with the job, piled on supplies or guns until the camel, 
feeling that it was being mishandled and abused, decided 
that it must assert itself and maintain its dignity as king 
of the desert. The Tommy cursed and swore at the camel, 
told it in the best East-end style what he thought of it, 
while the camel groaned, and in its own tongue uttered 
desert expletives. A crisis came. With a bound the 
camel rose, shook itself, and commenced a thoroughgoing 
rebellion against the established order of things. Its 
hind legs went up in the air, a piece of a gun fell off, and 
in a few moments the camel’s back was freed of its west- 
ern impedimenta. Then the fun began. The Tommy — 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 147 

incensed against such inexplicable conduct after he had 
fed the camel dutifully for months — tried force. Blows 
fell on the thick hide of the animal, but this only made the 
situation worse, and the camel, thoroughly out of hand, 
careered away through thie'camp. Tent ropes were ripped 
up as the great beast sprawled about. Tents collapsed, 
and confusion reigned. Men ran from all quarters of the 
camp to quell the revolt, and after a heated chase the 
runaway was captured. The camel was reloaded, this 
time with the correct weight, and soon was peacefully plod- 
ding across the desert, doing its bit for the allied cause. 

Sultans in their autocracy and power had loaded the 
patient Turkish peasantry with taxes, and burdened them 
with misrule and injustice until, as we have seen, a crisis 
came. The impedimenta of an effete regime was cast aside 
and the Turks in their new-found freedom attacked all who 
stood in their pathway to liberty. Nothing that Europe 
did was right ; Islam had led Turkey astray ; pan-Islam- 
ism was a danger to nationalism ; time-honoured customs 
were a drag on the wheels of progress. In fact, Turkey at 
this stage was remarkably like the camel which, having 
dislodged its load, was seen careering through the camp 
to the dismay of the army. The whole Moslem world 
focused its attention on Turkey, and watched with the 
keenest interest, not unmixed with anxiety, the changes 
that were taking place. India at first applauded the 
movement, no doubt thinking that in the Indian caliphate 
movement there was sufficient influence to curb excesses 
and control the new revolution in the interests of Islam ; 
but it was soon found that the tents of the Indian caliphate 
movement toppled over just as easily as those in the camps 
of western diplomacy. 

Turkey had begun the Great War with the cry — “ Islam 
in danger, defend the faith.” She emerged from it with 
the new slogan of “ Tiurkey for the Turks.” As the move- 
ment grew this became something more than a mere 
slogan. It represented an ambition that was shared by 



148 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

all ranks of society, and was the expression of a new 
national consciousness, a new unity and loyalty, and, for 
this reason, it raised Mustapha Kemal from the position 
of an officer in the army to that of virtual dictator of his 
country. Can Turkey ever be the same again ? If the 
changes were simply of a military nature, we might say 
“ Yes,” it will revert in time to the old type ; but the new 
outlook in Turkey has affected, as we shall see, every form 
of life. Social, religious, economic changes have taken 
place that have cut deep into the traditions of the past, 
and have set Turkey on a new road towards reform and 
westernization. Mustapha set out to pull down many of the 
old and time-honoured institutions of the Ottoman empire. 
The abolition of the sultanate took place in November 
1922, and excited very little surprise in Turkey itself. 
The decree was very brief. In terse language it ran, 
“ The Turkish people considers the form of government in 
Constantinople, which is based upon the sovereignty of an 
individual, as being obsolete A*om the 16th of March 1920, 
onwards for ever.”^ The Sultan and his ministers were 
charged with high treason and an order was issued for their 
arrest. The Sultan escaped on a British gunboat and the 
ministers fled. The National Assembly then elected, as 
caliph only, Abdul Mejid, a cousin of the deposed Sultan. 

It will be remembered that in the 1908 rebellion the 
Young Tmks placed great emphasis upon the Turkish 
language and brought the spoken language of the people 
into literature and the press. They had never, however, 
seriously interfered with the sacred rule of using Arabic 
for all religious pmposes. Prayers throughout the Moslem 
world were said in Arabic, and no deviation from this law 
had ever been allowed. It is significant of the sweeping 
reforms that were to follow that, at the investiture of the 
new caliph, the prayers were said in Turkish and not in 
Arabic. The significance of this change was lost to the 
western world, but Moslems ever 3 rwhere were aghast at 
* Quoted in Turkqf, by A. J. Toynbee »nd K. P. Kirkwood, p. ISO. 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 149 

the decision. Turkish preferred to the language of Heaven 
— “ God forbid,” they exclaimed t But it was all part of a 
far-reaching programme, the ideals of which were ex- 
pounded in 1908, for a new and racial nationalism that 
would place Turkish interests above Islamic claims and 
would change Turkey from an international religious state 
without frontiers into a compact nationality with a new 
race consciousness. Turkey as a state was now founded 
upon Turkish nationality rather than upon Islam. The 
new caliph was shorn of all political power, and although 
he was “ the bearer of the mantle of the Prophet ” he was 
only a figure-head and was appointed as a sop to the reli- 
gious feelings of the people, who could not imagine Turkey 
without a caliph. 

The deposing of the sultan marked a definite stage in the 
new order of things. It was proclaimed as the beginning 
of a democratic era. This was followed up in October 
1928 by the declaration of a republic in Turkey. In 
tracing the causes of so violent a change from the tradi- 
tional form of government we would give due weight to 
the fact that many young Turks were educated in France 
and Germany ; but it should be remembered also that the 
most efficient education in Turkey itself for many years 
was that provided by the American missionaries at the 
Robert College, Constantinople, the American University 
of Beyrout, and similar institutions. While it is true that 
Turkey has adopted republicanism of a French rather than 
of an American type, yet ideas of liberty and constitu- 
tional government must often have been imbibed by the 
Turks in their boyhood days from American sources. 

The republic was greeted with a storm of enthusiastic 
delight, and Mustapha Kemal Pasha was elected im- 
animously as first president. Many are still sceptical 
whether Turkey can change over so suddenly from an age- 
long monarchical autocracy to a full-blown republic. 
The lessons firom other lands all show that the process is 
slow and difficult, and Turkey has before her many obstacles 



150 


THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 


and dangers to pass before she will reach the tranquil 
waters of settled democratic government. In other 
countries republicanism has been a movement of the 
people ; it has sprung out of the very soil of the land, and 
the evolution of ideas has been gradual. In Turkey’s case, 
the republic has been imposed upon the people from above. 
It has not been in any sense a popular democratic growth, 
but rather a forced plant. The key to the enigma lies in 
the personality of one strong man — ^Mustapha Kemal. 
He is the republic. The future depends very largely, if 
not entirely, upon him. 

The new republic abandoned Constantinople with its 
strategic world-position, its historical associations, its 
unrivalled scenery and beauty, its great mosques with 
their domes and minarets, and all its romantic lure, for 
Angora, an insignificant town in Asia Minor. Constanti- 
nople was cosmopolitan with its mixture of Greeks, Jews, 
Armenians, Syrians, and Levantines, and it was associated 
with every form of western diplomacy in the minds of the 
Turks. Foreigners very largely ran the city. Its trams, 
telephones, electric power were all in the hands of foreign 
companies. The Ottoman Bank itself was a Franco- 
British concern. To abandon this ancient capital was, 
therefore, a part of Mustapha Kemal’s policy for complete 
nationalization of the country. It was an effort to cut 
adrift from the old dependence upon foreign help, initiative, 
and support. Constantinople was the home of the sultans 
and it stood for Ottoman rule and all its western rami- 
fications. The early home of the Turks, long before they 
had reached empire status, was in the Anatolian hills. 
Angora is the ancient Ancyra, and still contains, in fine 
preservation, the Temple of Augustus. To recapture the 
spirit and glory of old Turkey the leaders of the republic 
took their people back to their ancestral home. To re- 
establish the virility of a people who had once dominated 
half the world, the bracing mountain air of Anatolia was 
preferred to the enervating influences of the Bosphorus. 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 


151 


The republic was not yet six months old when a second 
revolutionary change took place. On 8rd March 1924 the 
historical caliphate was abolished. It will be remembered 
that when the caliph-sultan was deposed a cousin was 
appointed caliph with no political powers. His office was 
purely spiritual, a form of the caliphate entirely unknown 
in Moslem history. Islam never had drawn any distinc- 
tion between the spiritual and temporal powers of the 
caliph. He had been the military defender of the faith 
and the political head of Islam. Church and state were 
one in Islam. The laws of the one were the laws of the 
other, and there never was any conscious distinction 
between the two. The head of the faith had been the 
commander of the faithful. Caliphs had ruled by con- 
quest vast dominions and empires. They had at times 
degenerated into puppets in the hands of the military 
leaders, but they had never acted in the capacity of a 
pope or patriarch with spiritual functions to perform. 
The caliphate had for a long time been a shadowy institu- 
tion with ill-defined responsibilities. Mustapha Kemal, 
when he appointed a caliph with spiritual office only, may 
have had in mind a possible analogy with the organization 
of the Greek or Roman Church. Whether this is so or 
not it took less than six months to convince him that what 
obtained in Christendom would not necessarily work in 
Islam. Once temporal power had been taken away the 
caliphate existed only in name. It was a mere husk 
ready to be blown away by the first wind from Angora. 
The sultan, in his pan-Islamic propaganda, had tried to 
give spiritual significance to his office as caliph, and at 
one time he informed the Chinese government that, as the 
spiritual head of the Moslems in China, he was responsible 
for their welfare — ^a claim that the government of China 
instantly repudiated. This, however, was nothing more 
than a political move, and never met with any serious 
response in the Moslem world. The problem which 
Mustapha Kemal had to face was whether the caliphate. 



152 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

along with other institutions, could be westernized. If 
not, it was doomed. Could it function on the spiritual 
plane alone ? If not, it would be a rival power to the 
republic and would ultimately lead to a clash between the 
representatives of the state and the forces of Islam. 
Mustapha Kemal’s programme contained many things 
with which orthodox Islam must strongly disagrees The 
caliph, once he was established strongly in the affections 
of the people, might precipitate a movement that would 
threaten the very life of the republic. He could not, as 
caliph, have acquiesced in an anti-Moslem movement and 
still have claimed to uphold the traditions of Islam. 
Added to this was the further danger that the new caliph 
was actually a member of the royal family and the House 
of Othman. The president of the Turkish republic, in 
March 1924, simply announced that as the caliph had been 
stripped of all power he was to be expelled from the 
country, and a few days later the caliph and his family 
left Turkey to seek retirement in Christian Europe ! 

So the Ottoman dynasty, that had ruled in Constan- 
tinople ever since the capture of the city in 1458, passed 
out of existence. This dynasty had sprung from a nomadic 
tribe ; it had carved out a great empire, and created the 
Ottoman state. The people, proud of it, had called them- 
selves Osmanlis, after the ruling family. Now, by one 
brief decree at Angora, the glory of the Ottomans dis- 
appeared. Out of the ashes of a broken empire there 
sprang up a republic on western lines, freed from the 
traditions of a great imperial and historical past. 

The very word “ Ottoman ” now disappears from aU 
official documents in Turkey. The House of Othmfm, 
once the great pillar of the Moslem world, has vanished. 
The dynasty that at one time threatened to engulf all 
Emrope and which long battered at the gates of Vienna has 
succumbed to influences from those very western lands 
which it once sought to subdue. The House of Othman 
established itself in Europe long years ago. The wheels 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 168 

of time grind «lowly, but nevertheless surely, and the 
greatest triumph of the Ottomans has, after nearly five 
hundred years, proved to be their undoing. Ultimately, 
western infiuence was bound to penetrate into the life of 
Turkey with the inevitable result of the overthrow of sultan 
and monarchy. So great has been the reaction against 
the old regime that when the caliph, the last of the House 
of Othman, was ordered to leave Tiurkey, no voice was 
raised in protest, and the comic papers of the day made 
the one-time caliph the object of ridicule and scorn. 
What a contrast ! In 1468 Mohammed II, of the House 
of Othman, entered Constantinople, and he did so as the 
proud conqueror of the great city. In 1924, the last of a 
great dynasty was ignominiously exiled from his native 
soil. Nationalism, as Abdul Hamid years before had seen, 
had proved the ruin of his family. The rule of the Otto- 
mans is ended, but Turkey, free and democratic, lives to 
work out her own destiny unfettered by sultans and their 
autocratic power. 

The abolition of the caliphate meant that Turkey 
voluntarily gave up the prestige and influence that its 
being the centre of Islamic authority gave it. Islamic 
unity was sacrificed for Turkish solidarity. Pan-Islamism 
was thrown over because of its failure in the Great War 
and because Moslems, particularly Arab and Indian, 
instead of rallying to Turkish assistance, fought against 
Turkey. Thus the Timk lost all faith in Islamic unity as 
a political force. He came to view it rather as an incubus 
involving sacrifices that weakened Turkish nationalism 
with no compensating return. 

To the rest of the Moslem world the caliph’s expulsion 
from Turkey came as a shattering blow to hopes and dreams 
of a future Moslem confederation. To the non-Moslem 
world this change of policy is not without significance. 
The caliphate was the symbol of a religious autocracy that 
divided the world into two classes, the believers and the 
infidels. In theory, the House of Islam was a unity, an 



154 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

empire without frontiers. Peace reigned within it, but a 
permanent state of war existed theoretically towards all 
without, namely the “ infidels.” The theory was that 
this state of war would continue until no “ infidels ” were 
left and all would be Moslems, with a theocratic chxurch- 
state co-extensive with the world. Of course, this has 
never been more than a theory. Unity within the House 
of Islam has always proved to be impossible. The idea 
of permanent war with the rest of the world was carried 
out in the early days of Moslem expansion, but it was 
abandoned by Turkey as a theory calculated to combine 
the rest of the world against Islam. The caliphate, how- 
ever, did accentuate the religious gulf in Moslem faith and 
practice between the Moslem believer and the infidel. 
The abolition of the caliphate may yet mean a more humane 
attitude on the part of Turkey towards non-Moslem people, 
although, as yet, the republic has shown no signs of a 
change of heart as far as minorities are concerned. The 
ol methods, so common in Abdul Hamid’s time, of crush- 
ing opposition by hanging, is developing almost into a daily 
pastime in Angora. The Committee of Independence 
holds its assizes regularly, and short shrift is given to any- 
one suspected of disloyalty to the republican cause. High 
gallows are erected at the cross-roads in Angora, and it is 
a common sight to see swinging in the wind the bodies of 
men who at one time were leaders in Turkey. Their crime 
is that they formed an opposition to the parliamentary 
party in power. Mustapha Kemal claims to be progres- 
sive and liberal, and yet his autocracy is as great as any 
exercised by the sultans of old. A parliament sits at Angora, 
but no one dares to oppose the dictator. To criticize a bill 
is to lay oneself open to the charge of being reactionary, 
and to be reactionary ultimately leads to the gallows. 

One of the curious ironies of the post-war situation is 
that a war, which was to make the world safe for democ- 
racy, has resulted in dictatorships in so many countries — 
dictatorships which are exercised in the name of democ- 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 165 

racy. Russia boasts of the proletariat, and yet a small 
group of men control the country and ruthlessly beat down 
all opposition. Italy has followed the same method while 
opposing the principles for which Russia stands. The 
points of view are poles apart, yet the method is much the 
same. Greece, not long ago, shot a whole Cabinet of 
ministers in the name of progress and reform, and Turkey 
hangs its statesmen in the open street while children play 
games below the gallows, and the grown-ups pass to their 
work indifferent and unconcerned. 

The atrocities around Mosul showed how little change 
had taken place in Timkish mentality. The stories given 
by eye-witnesses — ^the destruction of villages, the shooting 
of men and the rape of the women — are much the same as 
those witnessed in Armenia both before and during the 
war. Mustapha Kemal may abolish the veil for women and 
change the men’s hats, he may alter Islamic customs, and 
blaze abroad his progressive reforms, but so far he has not 
changed the heart of the Turk. So much of Mustapha’s 
progrsimme is sound reform that there is hope that the 
movements he is initiating may mark a stage towards the 
true nationalization of Turkey with liberty in its best 
sense guaranteed for all. The national movement has 
already placed Turkey in a position of independence, freed 
alike from eastern domination and Islamic conservatism. 
Can Turkey by progressive stages rise in civilization until 
the horrors that have marked her history for so long, and 
which still are a feature of Tmkish life, become a forgotten 
memory ? Only thus will she be able to take her place 
alongside the great European nations as one of a world- 
wide family.^ 

^ A Turk said, “ A cloak out and modelled for Arabia has been forcefully put 
round our necks and has kept us to our bedsteads, so preventing the free 
development of our normal and national abilities. . . . The Arabs have ruined 
us by forcing upon us a God of their own creation. This does not lack some 
good and noble qualities, but He has attributes that have paralysed our national 
and normal growth. Our minds have remained puzzled in the midst of 
contradictions.** — Quoted in An Eastern Palimpaeat, by 0. Wyon, p. 22. 



156 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The abolition of the caliphate by Turkey did not mean 
that the rest of the Moslem world would tamely accept the 
position. A storm of criticism broke out and Mustapha 
Kemal was accused of betraying the cause of Islam. His 
Highness the Agar Khan, and the Right Honourable Ameer 
Ali, wrote a letter addressed to the prime minister, appeal- 
ing to Turkey on behalf of the whole Moslem world, for 
a reconsideration of the caliphate question. The letter ap- 
peared in the leading newspapers in Constantinople, and 
Mustapha Kemal quickly showed that he would brook no 
interference from outside, nor coimtenance any criticism 
within the country. To India he retorted hotly that Indian 
Islam had done nothing for Turkey in the Great War, and 
he could not allow India now to interfere with Turkish 
affairs. To the newspapers he replied by arresting, on a 
charge of treason, tl^e editors, who were condemned to 
penal servitude. 

Indian Islam had for years advocated the cause of 
Turkey. Leading Indians had used all their influence to 
keep British policy pro-Tmkish, and after the Armistice they 
pressed strongly the necessity for treating Turkey leniently 
if England wished to retain the sympathy of the Moslem 
world. The caliphate was used as the great argument. 
Turkey, they said, was sacrosanct because the Sultan was 
head of the faith. England was accused of plotting to 
overthrow the caliphate and to disintegrate Islam. India 
had committed itself up to the hilt on the caliphate policy 
and as a reward found itself completely nonplussed, not 
by England, the supposed arch-enemy of Islam, but by 
Turkey itself. The Turks had renounced their claim to 
the caliphate, rejected Indian help, and thus forfeited the 
support and influence which they had hitherto received 
from Moslems the world over. It became clear that the 
caliphate and nationalism could not go together, that 
Westernism and pan-Islamism were incompatible, that or- 
thodoxy and modernism were contradictory, that Koranic 
law and the new legislation were in conflict ; and Turkey, 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 157 

having made its choice, deliberately turned its back upon 
its pld friends in India and rejected for the future the 
whole Islamic policy as a hindrance to Turkish progress, 
culture, and civilization. Turkey, said Mustapha Kemal, 
had come through the chaos of the war, not because of 
any help that Moslems had given them, but in spite of 
Islam, which had for centuries hindered true development. 
One leading Turk declared that Turkey would have fared 
better if it had never become Moslem at all. 

The political transformation would never have succeeded 
had it not been linked closely to a great social revolution. 
The caliphate question and Islam were not only bound up 
with politics but were indissolubly linked with the whole 
Islamic social system ; and the revolt of educated Turkey 
against the social code of Islam was in some ways stronger 
than the opposition to the burden of poUtical Mohammed- 
anism. Contact with the West, the flood of new ideas, 
the intellectual ferment, the new demands for education, a 
new literacy, and the influence of the press, all tended to 
awaken Turkey out of the torpor of self-satisfaction with 
things as they were in Islam, and to create new aspirations 
for life upon a broader basis than simply religion. 

The leaven had been working underground for a long 
time. Men and women alike sought for new opportunities 
of self-expression, better conditions of life, juster laws and 
social equality for the sexes. The magic watchword 
liberty came to have a deeper significance to the women 
than simply political freedom. They wanted liberty to 
live their own lives in their own way, unfettered by the 
laws of a seventh-century prophet. They hated what they 
called a forced morality imposed upon them by regulations 
for the veil, the harem, the separation of the sexes and 
the seclusion of women. The fiery zeal of the reformers 
swept away the harem, the eunuch system, polygamy and 
many other Islamic customs. The western world judges 
the civilization of any race very largely by its attitude to 
women, and if this test be applied to Tm^key, then the 



168 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Turks are making wonderful strides in this direction. 
Polygamy has been forbidden by law except under certain 
defined circumstances. The seclusion of women has 
vanished, and child-marriages are no longer possible. 
The example of the Prophet, who was betrothed to his 
favourite wife Ayesha when she was a child of eight, and 
married to her when she was ten, has been rejected in 
favoiur of the general European custom of marriages from 
the age of sixteen and upwards. The women began to 
agitate for equality, and a law passed by the Angora 
Assembly gives equal rights of divorce to both sexes. 

For some years Turkish women had been protesting 
against their seclusion from the professions. The con- 
servative and Islamic section had bitterly opposed them, 
yet they forced their way forward until they were accepted 
as students in medicine, science and law. Women in the 
old days seen in the streets unveiled were regarded as bad 
characters, subjected to insults, and were always objects 
of suspicion. At last they decided to risk the charge of 
immodesty by appearing in public in European dress. 
The Great War brought in Turkey, as in the West, many 
changes into the life of women. Turkish girls participated 
actively in war work as nurses, and in the Red Crescent 
Society. They took the place of men in shops and ofiices. 
The ability of the women to fill these posts was soon 
demonstrated by the testing of the war, and after experi- 
ences such as these, the old days of seclusion came to an 
end for ever. 

In 1928 an Education Act included a clause for com- 
pulsory education of both girls and boys. Co-education 
htus been established, and in the Constantinople College 
women are now on an equal footing with men. A visitor 
to Constantinople to-day would miss the old Arabian 
Nights’ atmosphere, and the prevalence of many customs, 
so marked a feature in the old days. Girls in the latest 
Parisian costumes dance at the large hotels, husbands walk 
arm-in-arm with their wives through the streets. Cinemas 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 


159 


and theatres are thronged with women who mix freely 
with the men. Yet if the visitor saw only these outward 
symbols and changes he would miss the whole spirit of the 
renaissance that has insp^d Tmkey. Behind all this lies 
the more solid work of social service. “ The Women’s 
Association,” formed to uphold the cause of women, is 
carrying on an interesting piece of work for the poor and 
the illiterate. The association has arranged for weekly 
talks to women to be given by women in the mosques. 
The subjects include the Turkish revolution and the position 
of women in it, economic conditions for women, manage- 
ment of family affairs, good health, the care of children, 
etc. The association is working for the uplift of Turkish 
women by teaching them trades. It publishes a news- 
paper of its own with articles on the rights of women and 
kindred subjects. In its activity for public morality it is 
seeking to obtain the appointment of women inspectors of 
cinemas and places of public amusement. 

It must not be imagined that these changes are finding 
general acceptance throughout Turkey : in the more out- 
lying places things have really changed very little so far. 
In one town, where some actors were giving a performance 
to illustrate the value of Turkish women taking up careers 
of their own, the people were summoned to attend by 
proclamation. They did so, but were shocked to find that 
men and women had to sit together, a procediure that 
caused some immediately to retire. Customs cannot be 
changed in a day, and the stolid peasants of the country 
are slow to adjust themselves to the new conditions. 

In the realm of sport Turkish girls are competing with 
their western sisters. They are throwing themselves into 
every form of athletics, and the Ladies’ Union Club 
recently organized races for girls in which they competed 
over a six-mile course ! There are now rowing clubs, 
women’s hockey clubs, mixed bathing, and every form of 
amusement known in the West. 

The progress of reform has been like a wireless wave 



160 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

spreading in all directions and penetrating through every 
hidden recess of the old life and traditions. The eccle- 
siastical schools were among the first to go. They were 
institutions for the teaching of the Koran and the Moham- 
medan faith. They had vast endowments and properties, 
and by an order from Angora they were all confiscated for 
the use of the state, and the endowments transferred to 
the Treasury. As we have already seen, the strength of 
Islam has been in its Dervish orders, and the zeal for the 
faith which these orders have engendered. The Dervishes 
looked upon the reforms with horror. Their influence 
was considerable, especially among the poorer classes, and 
again Angora stepped in and abolished all Dervish 
monasteries, orders and corporations. Even the familiar 
dress was forbidden. Henceforth, no Dervish or similar 
religious order was to be allowed in the republic, and some 
ten thousand Dervishes were thrown upon the streets to 
swell the number of reactionary malcontents. 

The changes are perhaps best seen at the great Moslem 
festivals. The Fast of Ramadan was always compulsory 
in the days of the sultan, and punishment swiftly overtook 
any who openly broke the Islamic law. To-day the fast 
is optional, and work goes on as in any other month of 
the year. Shops are now open and government offices 
keep the same hours as in other months. The state has 
laid down that it does not interfere in matters of faith and 
conscience, which are for the individual alone to settle. 
The close of the fast used to be a time of religious rejoicing. 
Now it is marked by the attractions of the cinema, the 
dance and the theatre. 

How far things have moved can be seen from the follow- 
ing pronouncement by Rifat Effendi, the Head of Religious 
Affairs in 1925 : 

I am one of those who have unconditionally received 
the form of government accepted by the Grand National 
Assembly of Turkey. There is notlimg more natural and 
logical than the separation of religion and worldly affairs. 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 161 

Religion is a command of conscience, and a matter per- 
taining to the future life. Its being mixed and tangled 
very often with the work of the world is a great hindrance 
to the higher spiritual life. Therefore, the separation of 
these is necessary, and also very suitable. I cannot refuse 
to recommend the people to receive this with favour. 

The custom of taking off the shoes or slippers on enter- 
ing a mosque became difficult to follow where European 
boots were worn, and Turkey again was equal to the 
occasion. It was pronounced to be a local custom of the 
Arabs, suitable to life in Arabia where most men went 
about barefoot, and permission was given to Turks to enter 
mosques in future with their boots on I The time-honoured 
head-dress of the Turks — the fez — has disappeared. The 
third anniversary of the republic was marked by a pro- 
clamation making the wearing of the fez illegal, and when 
the Assembly met, all the members were wearing top-hats 
and tail-coats. Police were ordered to search the houses 
for the accursed thing and destroy it. The fez was as 
distinctive for men as the veil for women. It was the 
symbol of Ottoman rule. Every official of the sultan had 
to wear it, and Mustapha Kemal, seeking to eradicate all 
traces of Ottoman rule, banned the fez, and dire punish- 
ment was threatened to any who wore it. Anyone seen 
wearing a fez was mobbed, and in a few days the pictur- 
esque headgear disappeared from the streets, and every 
form of ugly European hat took its place. 

Mustapha Kemal had, in CromweU-like manner, carried 
his dictatorship with a high hand. The whole machinery 
of the state had been revolutionized, and the social systems 
turned upside down. Could this continue without reac- 
tion ? People predicted the assassination of the President, 
and the overthrow of the republic. The smouldering 
discontent found a response in Kurdistan. The Kurds, 
numbering over a million, were still within the jurisdiction 
of Turkey after the war. They are largely illiterate and 
do not speak the Turkish language. Racially they are 

L 



1«3 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

separate from the Turks, and have not, from the first, 
shared any of the Turkish national sentiments. The re- 
forms in Turkey stirred all their latent fanaticism. They 
sought autonomy and independence, and viewed Turkish 
control as alien. Their faith was in danger, and they 
began to organize a revolt against the “ atheists ” of 
Angora. In February 1925 the rebellion burst into flame, 
and rapidly spread through Kurdistan. The Km*ds 
advanced to battle with copies of the Koran tied to their 
bayonets, and the leader of the rebellion, Sheikh Said, in 
a proclamation called upon all Kurds to rise against the 
irreligious government of the republic ; 

We are going to restore the caliphate. Islam cannot 
exist without the caliph as spiritual chief. No caliph has 
ever been expelled by any government except the Turkish 
republic. It is our religion which makes us powerful and 
feared, and we must restore the caliphate, Koranic laws, 
religious schools, and veils for women. The present 
Turkish government has continually attacked our reli- 
gion. Turkish women are now all uncovered. Atheism 
progresses in our schools. The Tmlcish regime must be 
overthrown. 

The programme was certainly Islamic, but not all the 
fanaticism and orthodox Islam in Turkey and Kurdistan 
could stem the tide of progress. The rebel tribes were 
subdued and their leaders executed. The remarkable 
thing was how little the rebellion disturbed Turkey itself. 
If the orthodox in Turkey sympathized with the Kurds 
they never showed it, and one great result of the rising was 
to unite the Turks more closely in their determination to 
defend the republic. 

Mustapha Kemal was alive to the strong reactionary 
opposition, and drastic measures followed the rising. The 
press was still further gagged and made the mouthpiece 
of government policy. A bill was passed through the 
Assembly making it high treason for anyone to use religion 
as a means of arousing popular sentiment. A strong 



THE IMPACT OF WESTERNISM 168 

military control was established at Angora. The preachers 
in the mosques were forbidden to teach anything that 
might be subversive of the state. The dictatorship was 
strengthened, and once more opposition was crushed or 
driven underground by the terrors of this democratic 
republic which decreed hanging for all who opposed in the 
slightest way the policy of the government of the day. 

Turkey at Lausanne ratified a treaty which declares that 
“ all inhabitants of Turkey should be entitled to the free 
exercise, whether in public or private, of any creed, religion 
or belief, the observance of which shall not be incompatible 
with public order and good morals.” This profession of 
religious liberty has so far not made it possible for anyone 
to change his faith. A Moslem who becomes a Christian 
is still persecuted, not on the old grounds of the Koranic 
injunction but because a man should be satisfied with the 
religion he has and should not wish to change it ! 

We began our study by tracing the expansion of Islam 
into a non-Moslem world. Islam met the Turks while they 
were nomads on trek in search of a home. Out of the 
tribe grew the nation, and with its growth in power grew 
also the fame and glory of Islam. Racially the Turanian 
Turks had little in common with the Arabs. And, as they 
supplanted the Arabs in their bid for supremacy in the 
Moslem world, there existed a constant feud between the 
two. The Turks have been called the British of the Near 
East. Even in the days of the worst autocracy of the 
sultan, the Turk was ever seeking to rise and progress. 
Neither the dull uniformity of Islam, nor the fettering 
demands of orthodoxy ever suited the Turkish tempera- 
ment. His alert and inquiring mind was ever seeking new 
sources of knowledge, and when the universities of Europe 
were made available to him he leapt into a new world of 
thought and activity from which he never looked back. 

The struggle between conservative reaction and liberal 
progress was long and diflScult, but the ultimate result was 
a foregone conclusion. The triumph of the progressives 



164 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

has meant incalculable loss to Islam. Its prestige, soli- 
darity, laws, institutions and customs have all suffered in 
the change. Pan-Islamism, after a stormy career, has been 
broken up by the waves of a new patriotic nationalism. 
Moslem authority has been replaced by a democratic 
Assembly. Moslem law has been revoked in favour of 
new and western legislation, and the decrees of Gon (as 
Moslems believe the Koran to be) have been rejected as 
obsolete, out-of-date, and unsuited to present-day needs. 
Islam has been tested by the most Moslem country in the 
world, and in the light of western thought and culture, in 
the light of Tmkey’s present-day needs, in the light of the 
demands of women for emancipation, it has been found 
inadequate. 



CHAPTER IX 

ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 

In the days when the followers of Mohammed were being 
persecuted in Mecca before the flight to Medina, the 
Prophet, pointing to Abyssinia, said to his brethren, 
“ Yonder is a land of righteousness. Depart thither until 
the Lord shall open out for us a way.” Thus it came about 
that Africa provided a home of refuge for the fugitives. 
Others, on hearing of the kindly way in which the Chris- 
tian king had received them, crossed the Red Sea, and 
there were about a hundred Moslems at the court of the 
Abyssinian king. 

Another link which Islam had with Africa in those early 
days was formed when the governor of Egypt sent two 
Christian slaves as a present to Mohammed. “ The gift,” 
says Sir William Muir, ” was well suited to the Prophet’s 
taste. Mary, the fairest of the damsels, was kept for him- 
self,” and to her was born the only son that Mohammed 
ever had. This African slave girl was the cause of serious 
jealousy in Mohammed’s harem, and the other wives in- 
dulged in something like a revolt until a special revelation 
was given by God to the Prophet as a warning to Ayesha, 
Haphsa and others. The wives were told to repent and 
were threatened with divorce lest “ Haply if he put you 
both away his Lord will give him [Mohammed] in ex- 
change other wives better than you, submissive linto God, 
believing and pious.” ^ 

It was not imtil a.d. 640 that the Moslem armies turned 
their attention seriously to Africa. Omar’s troops had 
^ Koran, ohap. 66, ▼. 5. 


166 



106 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


invaded Palestine, and Amr, the Arab general, now decided 
to march on Egypt. The country was conquered without 
serious difficulty and in 641 “ Egypt passed under the 
Moslem yoke, from which — ^whether under Arab, Circassian, 
or Turk — she has never since been able to free herself and 
which slowly but surely has crushed out her art, her 
civilization, her learning, her religion and wellnigh her 
very life ; for of the four million who make up the present 
population of Egypt, there are barely seven hundred 
thousand who can claim beyond dispute to be the true 
descendants of the ancient Egyptians, and the enduring 
witness, through centuries of persecution, for the faith of 
Christ.” ^ 

The capture of Alexandria and the Delta gave the 
Moslems a base for further operations. Egypt was to be 
the spear-head for an advance into the interior of the great 
continent of mystery. To the Arab leader two routes 
seemed to be possible : the first up the Nile Valley south 
into the Sudan, where safety was secured by the great 
river ; the other along the coast of North Africa. Opera- 
tions in Egypt having been successfully concluded, Amr 
now received orders from the caliph, Omar, to push his 
troops south towards Nubia and west through Tripoli. An 
army was sent up the Nile and soon found the Nubians 
no mean foes. Their archery terrified even the Arabs, 
and although the Moslems triumphed in the end, it is 
recorded that they did not take a single prisoner, for the 
Nubians fought to the death. The Moslem force pene- 
trated as far south as Dongola, then a Christian country. 
In the treaty that was concluded the foundations of the 
Moslem slave-trade in Africa were laid. It was stipulated 
that three hundred and sixty slaves of both sexes (none of 
whom were to be aged or children below the age of puberty) 
were to be delivered annually to the Moslem governor of 
Assouan. The actual words of this treaty are worth 
quoting : 

* Th» Story of the Chwch of Egypt, K. L. Butcher, voL i. p. 370. 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD l«r 

In the Name of God. . . . This is a treaty granted by the 
Emir Abdullah ibn Saad to the Chief of the Nubians, and 
to all the people of his dominions, a treaty binding on 
great and small among them, from the frontier of Assouan 
to the frontier of Aiwa. ... Ye people of Nubia, ye shall 
dwell in safety under the safeguard oi God and his apostle, 
Mohammed, the prophet, whom God bless and save. . . . 
Ye shall take care of the mosque which the Moslems have 
built in the outskirts of your city and hinder none from 
praying there. Ye shall clean it and light it and honour 
it. Every year ye shall pay three hundred and sixty head 
of slaves to the leader oi the Moslems, of the middle class 
of slaves of your country, without bodily defects, males 
and females ; but no old men nor old women nor young 
children. ... If ye kill a Moslem or an ally or attempt 
to destroy the mosque which the Moslems have built or 
withhold any of the three hundred and sixty head of slaves 
then we shall revert to hostility until God decide between 
us, and He is the best of umpires.^ 

The Nubians reasserted and maintained their independ- 
ence in spite of repeated expeditions against them from 
Egypt. Arab efforts to penetrate into the interior, by 
the Nile route, were a complete failure. They did not 
succeed in pushing their conquests much beyond the first 
cataract. Christianity at an earlier date had spread south 
of Khartoum up both the Blue and the White Nile. The 
Sudanese for centuries blocked the way for Islam. In 
the fomi;eenth century the Nubians were apparently still 
Christians, but Moslem traders and others were assiduously 
preaching their faith. The conversion of the northern 
Sudan tribes was gradual and more in the nature of a drift 
than caused by any compelling strength of Islam. The 
root cause of the losses sustained by Christianity in the 
Sudan is in fact to be found in the low spiritual state of 
the Church. The Nubian Christians were isolated and 
cut off. Egypt was in the hands of the Arabs, and the 
clergy became corrupt and indifferent to the spiritual 

^ Quoted in A History of the Arabs in the /Sudan, H. A. Maomiohael# voL i. 
p. 167. 



168 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

needs of their flocks. For a time they seemed to exist 
without a faith yet with a pathetic desire to remain Chris- 
tians. A traveller in the sixteenth century relates that 
there were still one hundred and fifty churches in Nubia. 
The next hundred years marks the entire disappearance 
of the Christian faith from the country. The Nubians 
had surrendered to the appeals of Islam and from that 
time all traces of a living Church disappear. The Moslems 
gradually penetrated up the Nile through Dongola and 
south to about 10” latitude. Here the pagan tribes again 
checked all advance. Swamps and jungle, mountains and 
forests, inhabited by wild savage races, blocked the road, 
and Islam has to this day never succeeded in penetrating 
beyond this point. The interior of Africa was to remain 
pagan until Stanley, Livingstone and others explored it 
and Christian missions established the Church in the heart 
of the continent. 

We must now return to the main thread of our story and 
trace the advance of the Moslem armies in North Africa. 
A second force under Abdullah, the foster-brother of the 
Caliph Omar, marched in 047 from Egypt to Tripoli, and 
from there on into Tunisia. This first attack was short- 
lived owing to dissensions in Egypt, but the following year 
Ukbar led his army to Carthage and took it by storm. 
He then carried his victorious sword the whole length of 
North Africa until he looked out upon the Atlantic Ocean. 

All North Africa in the seventh century was Christian, 
and the Moslems not only captured the country but 
uprooted and completely destroyed the Christian Church. 
It is a staggering fact that a Church which had been 
famous for its piety and learning, its solid organization, 
and its great theologians, was swept out of existence. It 
boasted of Tertullian, Cjrprian and St Augustine. It had 
withstood Roman persecution and pagan invasion, and yet 
it gradually crumbled away before the steady pressure of 
Moslem propaganda. 

It would be a mistake to imagine that the Arabs found 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 169 

the Church in the flourishing condition of Cyprian’s day. 
The Vandals had overrun North Africa and the orthodox 
Christians had suffered untold miseries and persecutions. 
When in the sixth century the Vandals were crushed and 
North Africa was restored to the Roman Empire the Church 
was very much reduced. The restoration of peace brought 
with it a renewal of theological controversies and bitter 
strife which further weakened the Church. The follow- 
ing century began the completion of a catastrophe which 
had opened with the Vandal invasion and had continued 
through Church dissensions and schisms. The Moslem 
army not only sacked the towns which it captured ; it 
drove the inhabitants into slavery in Egypt and Arabia. 
Christians taking refuge in flight crossed over into Italy 
and Spain in hundreds. Flourishing cities were in ruins 
and the Church sank under the weight of a succession of 
calamities which ended in the extinction of Christianity 
there, and the complete domination of Islam throughout 
North Africa. 

The contacts of Islam with Africa up to this point had 
been almost entirely with Christian communities.^ The 
Arabs had now reached the point where they must present 
their faith to an uncivilized, illiterate and pagan people. 
The Moslem army made many converts in its victorious 
march. This is seen from the fact that when in 711 
Tarik invaded Spain he had under his command twelve 
thousand Berbers, converts to Islam. Great care was 
taken to instruct those who joined the Moslem ranks. 
One of the generals spent large sums of money on the 
purchase of slaves who were willing to embrace Islam. If 
they showed ability and talent and proved themselves 
worthy sons of Islam they received their liberty and often 
rose to high rank in the army. 

The conversion of the Berbers was the starting-point 
for an advance into pagan Africa. 

By the beginning of the eleventh century North Africa 
^ See France, Spain and the Bif, W. B. Harris, p. 27. 



iro THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

had entirely passed under Moslem rule. Important centres 
of Koranic learning had been established and the people 
were being instructed in the faith. The pilgrimage was 
becoming a factor in the expansion of Islam. The con- 
version of Berber tribes was increasing rapidly. It was 
in the early part of this century that a chief of a Berber 
tribe, returning from Mecca, was fired with zeal for the 
Islamizing of his people. He sought out a learned Moslem 
as a teacher, one Abdullah ibn Yassin, and installed him 
in the tribe. He laboured for a time without result. The 
people could not conform to his strict discipline nor were 
his denunciations of their vices to their liking. Utterly 
discouraged at their obstinacy the sheikh left them and 
retired to an island in the river Senegal. Here he founded 
a monastery with strict rules of life. The Berbers, con- 
science-stricken at their loss of the pious teacher, went to 
beg him to retiun. Thus he gathered round him a large 
band of disciples. When the number had reached about 
a thousand, the sheikh saw that the opportunity had come 
for advance. He called his followers together and said, 
“ Go to your fellow-tribesmen, teach them the law of 
God, and threaten them with chastisement ; if they 
repent, amend their ways and accept the truth, leave them 
in peace ; if they refuse and persist in their errors and evil 
lives, invoke the aid of God against them, and let us make 
war upon them until God decide between us.” Bands of 
young men went through the Berber tribes preaching and 
exhorting the people to repent, but without success. 
Those associated with the monastery were now formed 
into a sect and given the name of A1 Murabitin, a word 
meaning “ those dedicated to the service of God.” This 
sect is famous in history under the Emropean title of 
Al-Moravides. 

The next step is very important as showing the typically 
Moslem method of spreading the faith. The sect was armed 
and formed into an expeditionary force, which set out to 
attack the tribes and to force them at the edge of the 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 171 

sword to accept Islam. There was no question of a 
defensive war. The Moslems believed that, having sum- 
moned people to repent, it was their God-given task to 
compel the Berbers, through war, to obedience. They 
were the aggressors, and this holy war was similar to many 
others and had for its objective the conversion to Islam 
of all those who were conquered. The Moslem zealots 
were victorious and the tribes of the Sahara submitted to 
the new faith. Negro communities were forced to accept 
Islam, and to the energy and initiative of the Al-Moravides 
sect must be attributed the early spread of Islam in the 
pagan areas of the Sahara. Their fanaticism in the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries thus led to the Islamizing 
of all north-west Africa, and their zeal carried them across 
the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain, until Moslem rule held 
sway from the Tagus on the one side to the Ebro on the 
other. Their name is still preserved in the name Marabout, 
used in North Africa for a religious devotee. 

Some of the pastoral tribes under Al-Moravides’ rule 
living in the north trekked south and were thus brought 
into more direct contact with pagans. They settled 
among them and intermarried, and soon gained by their 
superior intellectual powers complete ascendancy over the 
pagans. Three kingdoms, at least, gained great influence 
through this movement — ^the Ghana, the Melle, and the 
Songhai. By the eleventh century in Songhai it had 
become the rule that only a Moslem could be made king. 
The heads of these kingdoms made pilgrimages to Mecca, 
built mosques and began a definite campaign for the spread 
of Islam through Africa. The importance of this first 
Moslem expansion into the heart of Africa is readily seen 
when we remember that the Songhai tribe penetrated to 
the Niger and established its kingdom in the land of 
the rivers. These peoples have contributed more to the 
spread of Islam in Africa than any others. 

The Mandingo are a Negro race between the middle 
Senegal and the Upper Volta. They have always been 



172 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

famous as an agricultural and industrial people, and have 
been among the most zealous missionaries of Islam, which 
has been spread by them among all the neighbouring tribes. 
This remarkable race held almost a monoploy of the com- 
merce of the western Sudan ; their merchants travelled 
through Nigeria, the oases of the Sahara, and along the 
Atlantic coast, and where they sold their wares they 
spread their faith. 

The Hausas, the second of the three tribes, occupy the 
central Sudan, and are almost wholly Islamized. They 
are an alert commercial people with a common language 
spoken to-day probably by not less than twenty million 
people. 

Perhaps in the Fulani tribe we see Islam at its best in 
A&ica. These people are naturally reserved and haughty. 
This is due to the fact that they are Semitic in origin, and 
have a£Binities with both Jews and Arabs. It has been 
their glory that they have carried out the tenets of the 
Koran to the full. They have been a law-abiding people 
to whom religion was a governing principle of life. They 
have adopted the primitive simplicity of the Prophet 
in their habits and resemble the Wahhabis in their frugal 
and simple manner of hfe. Through the pilgrimage a 
number of their leaders were influenced by the Wahhabi 
revival of the eighteenth century. Their outlook is Arab 
rather than African, and their religion is Arab Islam, not 
the admixture so common in many Islamized pagan areas. 
This tribe is uncompromisingly Moslem. Their origin is 
obscure, but they are known to have been in Senegambia 
in the thirteenth century. From there they spread over 
the whole Sudan as far as Wadai. 

These peoples have thus presented Islam at different 
times to pagan Africa both as a great political power and 
a higher culture. Small groups of Moslems were scattered 
over the whole of north-west Africa, and wherever they 
settled they profoundly influenced the people. Islam, 
down to the seventeenth century, was the only civilizing 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 178 

force known in many parts of Africa ; the influence of 
Europe was infinitesimal compared with the Islamic 
impact. It would, however, be a mistake to imagine that 
because Moslem influence was so strong the whole of the 
Sudan was Islamized. Even on the edge of the Sahara 
m6iny tribes never became Moslem and have remained 
pagan to this day, although they have been literally 
surrounded by Moslems. Even the three great tribes 
most powerful in the spread of Islam — ^the Fulani, the 
Mandingo, and the Hausas — are by no means all Moslems, 
and certain important sections are still pagan.^ Again, 
in estimating the influence of Islam in the western Sudan, 
a distinction must be drawn between practising Moslems 
with some knowledge of their faith and pagan Moslems, 
who are wholly illiterate and who have acquired a thin 
veneer of Islam only. 

In these movements for the expansion of Islam, Moslem 
culture centred itself in Timbuctoo, and this city was for 
centuries a home of Islamic science. It is situated on an 
important trade route between the interior and the west 
and south. The imposing mosque dates from the tenth 
century. 

By the middle of the eleventh century the Sultans of 
Bomu and Kano in northern Nigeria became Moham- 
medans. Islam thus spread far into the interior, and here 
two streams of influence met. The merchants of the 
northern Sudan penetrated across the desert to Nigeria, 
and the propaganda started by the Berbers spread Islam 
westward. In this way there was a Moslem link between 
Bornu and Wadai on the west and Kordofan and Darfur 
on the east. 

Proselytizing campaigns have continued at intervals 
ever since Islam entered Africa, but the quiet and unob- 
trusive propaganda of traders and merchants has probably 
done more towards the expansion of Islam than the sword 

* See Maurice Oelafosse in The International Beview of Miseione, July 1926, 
p. 634. 



174 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


ever could. The witnessing work of the merchant class 
was ably followed up by the religious orders, and every 
mosque became a catechetical centre. The most notable 
of these orders in more recent times is the Sennousi. It 
was founded by Sidi Mohammed ibn Ali with the object 
of reforming and spreading the faith. By the genius of 
this one man a state was set up on theocratic lines. Every 
member of the order is bound by strict rules of discipline, 
and the principles of the Sennousi are very similar to those 
of the Wahhabis in Arabia. Members of this sect are to 
be found in every part of North Africa from Egypt to 
Morocco. The headquarters of the movement are in the 
Libyan desert between Tripoli and Egypt. Here mission- 
aries are trained and sent out to preach the faith. Monas- 
teries have been established in many parts. While the 
members of this order aim at the defence of Islam and the 
instruction of those who have become indifferent and lax, 
yet they pay attention also to the spread of Islam, and they 
are busily at work among pagan tribes of the Sudan and 
the Sahara. 

The picture we often imagine of African Islam is that 
of a large body of Africans, animists and pagan through and 
through, yet called Moslems because they are content to 
pronounce in bad Arabic a certain formula about God and 
Mohammed, This certainly may be true of some, but it 
is not true of all. Centres of learning such as Timbuctoo 
have created a body of really learned men : 

Many are capable not only of reading and understanding 
the most abstruse productions of Arabic literature, but 
also of themselves composing in clear and correct language 
closely reasoned treatises of apologetics and exegesis. 
Their learning, the fame of which reaches sometimes even 
to Maghreb and Egypt, is greatly valued by the Mussulman 
doctors of North Africa,^ 


In South Africa the entrance of Islam dates from the 

^ DelafoM© in Th€ International Review of Mieeione, July 1926, p. 635. 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 


176 


seventeenth century when the Dutch East India Com- 
pany decided to use the Cape as a penal settlement, and 
the early batches of prisoners sent from Batavia were 
Mohammedans. Ultimately the prisoners were given 
their liberty, and were allowed to marry with the coloured 
population, thus forming a Mohammedan community in 
South Africa. This small Moslem body was reinforced by 
the arrival at the Cape in 1694 of Sheikh Yousif, a Javan- 
ese, with forty-nine fellow-Moslems. He was a man of 
royal birth and a great soldier. He had fought the Dutch 
for the independence of his country, and when he surren- 
dered he was exiled to the Cape. His tomb is to-day one 
of the sacred spots venerated by all Mohammedans in 
South Africa. The colony increased. The members were 
carefully instructed in the faith, and they have, by their 
good organization and zeal, made converts from the 
coloured people. Many of these Moslems have learned 
Arabic, and have made pilgrimages to Mecca. Dervish 
orders have been established. A considerable literature 
exists, and South Africa is regarded by some as a spear- 
point for the expansion of Islam northwards. The race 
problem in South Africa has undoubtedly created the im- 
pression among the natives that Christianity is the white 
man’s religion and excludes the coloured people. Islam is 
quick to grasp the significance of this, and to-day loudly 
proclaims its policy to be that of the supremacy of the 
coloiured people through Islamic brotherhood. 

There is evidence to show that Islam in Africa has not 
only gained adherents from among pagans, but also from 
the Christian population. The Archbishops’ Missionary 
Commission Report (1925) says ; “ It cannot be denied 
that in the course of years many hundreds, and more par- 
ticularly of young women, have lapsed from the Christian 
faith to Mohammedanism.” If we turn to the map of 
Africa we see Islsun entrenched along the whole of the 
northern coast. In Egypt over ninety per cent of the 
population is Moslem. From Tripoli to Morocco every 



176 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

living trace of Christianity has been blotted out, and the 
population is solidly Mohammedan. Throughout the 
French Sudan Islam has made great strides, and all the 
way down the west coast Islam is active, progressive, and 
expanding. Islam holds absolute sway up the Nile for over 
fifteen hundred miles to about 10° north latitude. Along 
the east coast there are Moslem centres everywhere, and 
in Abyssinia within the past century it is estimated that 
about two hundred thousand Christians have Islamized. 
Islam therefore forms a ring right round Africa, with con- 
siderable penetration into the interior at certain points. 
The total Moslem population in Africa is estimated at 
about forty-seven million. The Christians in Africa num- 
ber about five million only. These figures will show 
something of the strength of Islam in Africa, and help the 
reader to understand that the Moslem policy of one Islamic 
brotherhood, co-extensive with the continent itself, is by 
no means an idle dream. 

Potent as was the advance of Islam in A&ica in the 
eleventh to seventeenth centuries, it was in the nine- 
teenth century that one of the most striking movements 
took place. We have mentioned above the Fula people 
who had settled in many parts of the Sudan. At the 
beginning of the nineteenth century their political strength 
had declined, but their position was dramatically altered 
by Othman dan Fodio, a man deeply religious and filled 
with reforming zeal for the purity and supremacy of 
Islam. He organized a movement which was both national 
and religious. He sought a reformation in Islam first of 
all and denounced prayers for the dead and honours paid 
to the saints. He attacked vices such as drunkenness and 
immorality, and preached far and wide the necessity of 
piurifying Islam from its corruptness. He organized a 
revolution which rapidly spread. He overran Nigeria and 
the Hausa country, establishing his headquarters at 
Sokoto, and united one state after another in his kingdom. 
Othman died in 1817, and his son Rello carried on the work 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 


177 


and for a time extended his territory. Then came the 
inevitable decline through court luxury and idleness. 

Why has Islam spread so widely in Africa ? The experi- 
ence in one area does not supply an adequate answer for 
the whole. For example, in Egypt we have seen that the 
early military conquests, the free use of the sword, the 
long-continued persecutions of the Christians and the dis- 
abilities under which they lived — ^the difficulty of obtaining 
positions or of gaining any advancement unless they be- 
came Moslems — were some of the reasons. The problem, 
however, is widely different from this when we see Islam 
spreading in pagan Africa. While it is true that the 
sword was freely used and that pagan tribes were compelled 
to accept the Moslem faith, yet this alone does not account 
for the spread of Islam in Africa. 

Islam endows its people with a dignity peculiarly its 
own. It gives a man a feeling of superiority as the favoured 
of Allah. It implants a pride of religion in the heart of the 
believer, and it inspires all with a passionate loyalty to 
the faith and a deep devotion to the Prophet. When 
Moslems meet pagans they carry with them the prestige 
of a great religion, a conquering faith and a simple yet 
effective organization. The pagan immediately adopts 
an attitude of respect towards the Moslem. A religion 
that enables the worshipper to speak direct to God with- 
out any intermediary, without ritual or ceremony, without 
priest or temple, makes a pagan feel that he is in touch 
with a faith superior to his own with its fears of evil 
spirits and the necessity of appeasing angry gods through 
the medium of witch doctors and others. A pagan is 
quick to grasp the fact that by becoming a Moslem he can 
at once slip into a position of favour with 4he Deity. He 
can himself at any time invoke His aid, and he is always 
sure of obtaining His mercy. Direct access to God makes 
one of the strong appeals of Islam, and in the pagan world 
it wins a ready response because it is often what the pagan 
feels he most needs. 

M 



178 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


The prestige of the Moslem trader or settler is at once 
transferred to the convert who, by a quick imitation, 
creates an impression of superiority over his fellow-tribes- 
men. The desire to rise in the world is innate in human 
nature, and many AMcan chiefs have become Moslem to 
enhance their power and prestige in the eyes of their 
people. This has sometimes been carried so far that a 
chief, while professing Islam, has been anxious to keep 
his people pagan so as to secure his own individual 
superiority over his subjects.^ 

Islam has often been tolerant towards pagan beliefs 
and practices. The fear of rivalry has been absent and 
its demands on the pagans have been few. In the first 
instance, all that is asked of a convert is the repetition of 
the creed, which is sufficiently simple for the most illiterate 
and ignorant to understand. Mueh that is pagan has then 
been brought over into Islam, and many of the old customs 
and beliefs are retained by the African after he has become 
a Moslem. This has made rapid expansion easy but it has 
also proved to be a source of weakness to Islam, for many 
of these converts, given no fiurther teaching, have lapsed 
again into paganism; others have never gone beyond a 
change of name. Some, however, have gone forward and 
have become towers of strength to Islam. 

The pagan is very conscious of his ignorance. Contact 
with other races has shown him his backward state. He 
has a keen desire for knowledge and, in Islam, he sees a 
means of achieving his end. Ultimately this may prove 
to be the undoing of Islam, for the standard of education 
in most Moslem centres in Africa is very poor. The 
schools teach mainly the Koran and a garbled form of 
Arabic. The pupil is not long in learning that this system 
will not carry him very far, and as he compares the schools 
with other educational institutions, he sees that he is 
being led into an impasse where real progress is impossible. 
He therefore tends to turn to government and Christian 
* See Tht (kidtn Stool, E. W. Smith, pp. 226 tt leg. 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 


179 


missionary institutions which give him a wider range of 
thought and a broader outlook. 

The favour with which colonial governments have 
viewed Islam has undoubtedly had an effect on the pagans. 
Rightly or wrongly pagans liave felt that the governments 
under which they lived were on the side of Islam, and this 
influence has increased the prestige of Mohammedans in 
their eyes. 

The Moslem missionary is not as a rule the paid agent 
of a foreign race. Racially he does not differ very widely 
from the pagan. He is often a native of Africa who under- 
stands the language, the thought, habits and outlook of 
the people. He starts with a common ground, and his 
contacts are at once personal and friendly, such as are 
only possible between men of similar races and types.^ 

The Moslem, with all his sense of superiority, has no 
race complex. He feels no antipathy to a black skin, and 
there is no gulf between him and the pagan, such as often 
exists between a white man and a black. Again, the ethical 
differences are not very marked. The Moslem allows 
polygamy and unlimited concubinage, and although the 
pagan convert has to be satisfied with only four wives, 
yet this is scarcely a moral restraint when wives can be 
exchanged frequently and freely. 

The pagan is one of a tribe and his thinking is tribal 
rather than individual. His own individuality is somewhat 
lost in the tribe. As a Moslem, he immediately awakens 
to a sense of his personal value and importance, and begins 
to think for himself on new lines which are not necessarily 
those of the tribe. He emphasizes not so much the 
tribe as his own place in the tribe. This is important 
because it has developed an individual responsibility, 
which, in turn, has made possible a greater co-ordination 
in rule and law than obtains among, the pagans. The 
Moslem is more enterprising. He glories in a social 
equality with all other Moslems, and, having begun to 
1 Sm Th% QMw. Stool, £. W. Smith, p. 227. 



180 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

rise, he looks down on his pagan brethren as people quite 
inferior. 

In considering the causes of the spread of Islam emphasis 
should be placed upon the religious psychology of the 
African. To the simple pagan the appeal of the acted and 
spoken prayers of the Moslems is very effective. He sees 
the Moslem spread his prayer mat, go through his genu- 
flexions, audibly pray to an unseen Deity, The quiet and 
orderly demeanour of the worshipper as he finds self- 
expression through direct access to God, makes the pagan 
long for a personal religion of this sort. The call to prayer 
from the minaret and the immediate response in the village 
is a great advertisement for Islam. In fact, the publicity 
of individual prayer and the lack of mystery and secrecy 
in Islamic doctrine and worship are one of the most 
important factors in Islamic propaganda. 

A survey of African Islam shows that it appeals to town 
people far more than to the agricultural classes. The 
pagan who tills the land finds his deepest instincts and 
religious beliefs bound up with the soil. His animism 
seems to him an essential part of his life and necessary 
to the success of his crops. Paganism is largely a worship 
of the land, it is bound up with the soil in which the 
pagan’s interests lie, and he finds no counterpart in Islam 
for the spirit of rain or the spirit of the soil. This has 
been met by a free and wholesale adaptation of animistic 
beliefs in Islam ; yet many pagans, even when surrounded 
by Moslems, have refused to change their faith because 
they cannot find in Islam what their own particular African 
culture demands. 

The stronghold of Islam in Africa is along the Mediter- 
ranean sea coast. The Moslems constitute ninety-one per 
cent of the population in all the country 20° north latitude. 
About thirty per cent of Africa’s entire population is 
Moslem. How far Islam is spreading it is difficult to 
estimate. Government reports from the French Sudan 
give striking figures to show that many areas are already 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 181 

almost entirely Moslem, and in others we read of thousands 
on the road to Islam. In the British Sudan south of 
Khartoum, while Islam seems to be making some headway 
it is by no means rapidly winning the pagans, who, in the 
days of the Mahdi and since, have stoutly resisted all 
Mohammedan appeals. The great mass of the people 
in all the land south of 10° latitude remain pagan. 

In East Africa, while Islam is strongly entrenched in 
some parts — ^particularly around Zanzibar — yet as one 
penetrates into the interior Islamic influence wanes until 
the religion appears to make little or no headway at all in 
Central Africa. Reports from Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasa- 
land, and Uganda all tell the same story. Islam does not 
count seriously as a force in the native life of these countries. 
The common reason given for this apparent stagnation is 
that where Islam is faced with a strong and growing native 
Christian Chmch it ceases to expand. The superior 
education given in Christian schools, the higher moral 
standards required by the Christian faith, and the clean 
break which Christianity demands from all converts with 
animistic beliefs, give the African higher ideals than Islam 
and a faith which does all that Mohammedanism claims 
to do, and a great deal more. 

Travelling south, we find that Islam in the rural areas 
scarcely exists, and it is not until we come to South Africa 
that again we meet Islam in any strength. Here Moslems 
are organized and aggressive, and through their exploita- 
tion of the race question they make an appeal to certain 
sections of the native community. 

To sum up : Islam is very strong in the north and west, 
with a considerable following on parts of the east coast 
and in South Africa ; yet the Moslems are not making very 
great strides in the conquest of the great masses of people 
in the interior. Here the Christian Chmrch has met Islam, 
and has more than held its own. 

Islam has introduced em element of progress in the social 
and intellectual spheres. The pagan on becoming a Moslem 



182 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


is introduced into a new social world. He is given a new 
standing in the eyes of people to whom he has for long 
looked up. He becomes a member of a fraternity wider 
than Africa, and with horizons that baffle even his vivid 
imagination. His individuality is developed, a con- 
sciousness of a destiny to high things is bom in him, and 
his desire to advance grows. On the intellectual side he 
begins to learn to read. He memorizes the prayers and, 
if he has brains, he soon is fascinated by the study of 
Islam, the Koran and the Traditions. 

In morals there is no doubt that the Moslem African 
is frequently superior to the pagan. Drink is forbidden, 
and in some Islamized areas drunkenness has been almost 
stamped out. The morality of a Moslem community, it 
is claimed, is higher than that of a pagan. Evidence 
on this appears to be divided. On the one hand we are 
told that the restriction of polygamy to four wives has had 
a marked influence for good. Others say that in morals 
there is little to choose between the Moslem and the pagan. 
The fact is that the experience in one district is no guide 
to Africa as a whole, and the influences of Islam are patchy. 
In places where an Islamic culture and learning have been 
developed there appears to be a marked moral improve- 
ment. In areas where Islam- is only a veneer little change 
in morals is noticeable. 

Islam, as we have seen, has given to the African a sense 
of the worth of the individual as against the mass conscious- 
ness of pagan tribal life. This has proved to be a real 
enfranchisement of the individual. The convert, from being 
an unrecognized unit in a tribe, becomes master alike of 
himself and of his destiny, Islam has put an end to human 
sacrifices where it has gained predominant interest, and 
the power of sorcerers and witch doctors has declined. It 
is claimed that the idea of landed property under personal 
ownership came from Islam. This has materially con- 
tributed to the prosperity of the land and the wealth of 
the individual. Islam has brought into Africa a written 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 188 

language, and, in some cases, such as in Swahili, it has 
given a new literature to the people. There is to-day a 
Swahili, a Hausa, and a Fulani literature due to Islamic 
teaching and knowledge. 

Islam has undoubtedly, a certain amoimt of good to its 
credit in the suppression of evil customs and vices among 
savage peoples, but the ultimate test is not simply present 
good but the permanent powers of progress and develop- 
ment which a religion confers on a people. We have seen 
how, in the seventh centiuy, Islam raised the people of 
Arabia up to a point, and that there then followed stag- 
nation with no further powers of development. A survey 
of the Moslem world shows that in most Moslem countries 
inertia, stagnation and decay have always followed upon 
their being left to themselves. Islam in its Arab inception 
had considerable pagan elements in it, taken over by the 
Prophet from pre-Islamic days in Arabia, and just as the 
Semitic and Ctoistian parts of Islam made their appeal to 
Jews and Christians in other lands, so in Africa did this 
animism form a common ground between the Moslem Arab 
and the pagan African. Animism may be described as the 
belief that the inanimate world of nature is endowed with 
reason and intelligence much as animal beings are. It 
stands for a worship of spirits, and here the Moslem with 
his doctrine of genii and spirits appealed to the pagan 
whose religion was bound up with animism. The differ- 
ence seems to be that while in Islam the belief in spirits 
was coupled with the doctrine of the unity of God, in pagan 
Africa the place of God in worship was taken entirely by 
demons and spirits. All that was required, therefore, in 
the conversion of the pagan to Islam was that he should 
add to his animistic beliefs the creed — ^there is no God but 
God. The supremacy and power of the one God was the 
great contribution of Islam to a pagan world. 

The pagan world, however, was by no means willing to 
accept Islam simply in its Arab form, and Africa, where it 
has become Moslem, has given a contribution to Islam 



184 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

which has often made it animistic in type and colour. 
This constitutes a compromise with polytheism and 
charms, and enchantments are still commonly used to 
exorcise evil spirits. Thus the idea of a Supreme God has 
not overthiown heathen beliefs, but has been correlated 
to existing religious practices. Tree-worship, by hanging 
amulets on a tree, is a common Islamic practice. Thus the 
heathen in their conversion to Islam have brought over 
many of their old customs and religious beliefs, and this 
admixture, while making the propagation of Islam easy, 
does also carry with it the elements that ultimately make 
for stagnation and decay. Islam is not lifting the pagan 
out of the Slough of Despond but rather giving him a new 
belief tacked on to all that keeps Africa in despair and 
darkness. Islam in Africa is a religion in which fear of 
devils forms a great part of the faith. These devils are 
propitiated by sacrifices and their influence is warded off 
by charms. Such a religion is in a low stage of develop- 
ment, for the fear of demons hangs like a mill-stone round 
the necks of those who believe in them. The liberation 
of the African mind can only come through a faith that will 
break through this fear and lift the pagan out of the thral- 
dom of spirit- worship into an atmosphere where fear of evil 
spirits is replaced by the love of a Father-God.^ 

If Islam triumphed in Africa would it lift up the people 
in such a way as to enable them to grow, develop their 
own culture and take their place among the nations of 
the world ? There are, as we have seen, reasons for 
thinking that what happened elsewhere would follow in 
Africa. The ready acceptance of Islam in some areas has 
made the Koran a fetish which has replaced the old village 
idol. Some Moslem communities begin and end the great 
fast of Ramadan with purely pagan rites. In the days 
before European influence was strong, Islam had it ^1 
its own way in Africa. Over great areas Christianity was 

^ See three important articles on Islam in Africa in The IntenuiHonal Revieet 
of liietion*, July 1026, pp. 633-68. 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 


186 


unknown. To-day Africa is opened up, rapidly develop- 
ing, and the people are leaping into a new life filled with 
all that western contacts and civilization can give them. 
Easy transport, western education, missionary influences 
and European control are opening the eyes of the Africans 
to see that after all Islam is not the only world force, nor 
even the predominant religious power in the world. In 
French West Africa, where Islam once found its most 
fruitful openings, the tide appears to be turning definitely 
against Islam. M. J. Br6vie says : 

Everywhere the country youth seem to be leaving 
Islam. Even when their fathers practised regularly their 
religious duties they are now sweeping them away without 
scruple ; they drink, hunt and eat wild pig. Their fervour 
only awakes later in life in order to obtain the prayers of 
the marabouts after their death.^ 

It must be remembered that Islam in most parts of Africa 
has been hitherto isolated from the rest of the Moslem 
world, and, apart from the pilgrimage, has had little contact 
with other Islamic countries. This isolation has meant a 
development of the faith on distinctive lines which are 
neither those of Cairo nor of India. It has its own tradi- 
tions and its law schools. Fez has become almost as sacred 
a city as Mecca ; and, with the Fulani tribe, pilgrimages 
to the tomb of Othman dan Fodio are more frequent than 
to Mecca. Africa has its own saints and heroes of Islam, 
and great names in other lands are but shadows compared 
with the Sennousi or Fodio. Moslems of pagan Africa 
have never come into touch with the fierce fanaticism of 
other lands'. The people are naturally kind, and they 
show an easy tolerance towards other faiths. At the same 
time Wahhabi puritanism has found its counterpart in the 
Sennousi of the Libyan deserts, and the ascetic mystic is 
to be seen in Timbuctoo. Dervish orders have thrived in 
Africa, and the whole Mahdi movement in the Sudan was 

^ IsUmUme contre Naturisme au Soudan frangais, pp. 172-3, quoted in The 
Interruitional Review of Miseions, July 1926, p. 662. 



186 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


of Dervish origin, though mysticism was not a feature of it. 
The African has a real longing for God, and the vision of 
the unity of God as an omnipotent Lord came as a great 
revelation to the pagan groping for light. He escaped from 
the encumbrance of his ancestral religion and started upon 
the path of a new civilization. In the first flush of his new 
faith he feels equal to meeting anything that life may hold. 
As the conception of God grows on him he sees that there 
is little that he can do. Fatalism begins again to grip 
him and he resigns himself to the unalterable will of Allah. 

On the desert of Egypt, a few miles south of the Delta 
and facing towards the east, sits the inscrutable Sphinx 
guarding the entrance to Africa. For thousands of years 
this crouching figure has been keeping vigil, and travel- 
lers who would explore the hidden mysteries of the dark 
continent have passed it as the last landmark before 
entering the interior. The Sphinx is carved out of a solid 
block of stone. The figure is that of an African Negro 
who watches silently the efforts of races and peoples to 
subdue and conquer the vast interior of the continent. 
It is typical of Africa — a symbol of the mystery of her 
lands. As one views the Sphinx there is something awe- 
inspiring in its appearance, a challenge and a warning to 
those who pass by. The very loneliness of the figure seems 
to speak of a deep need, of the pains of a land isolated and 
cut off from the rest of the world. Sand-storms have swept 
around it, partly engulfed it, and yet, unmoved, it still 
watches through the silent hours of desert stillness for the 
dawn of a new day. The comeliness of this creature speaks 
eloquently of all the wealth of undeveloped character in 
the African races. The strength that has withstood the 
ravages of ages is typical of a people whose affection is not 
lightly to be won, and the patience in mien and look is 
characteristic of the African who through centuries of 
suffering has endured imtold hardships and yet emerges 
to-day the same lovable, patient creature — waiting, 
waiting, waiting. 



ISLAM IN THE PAGAN WORLD 18 T 

The Sphinx, unchangeful, inexorable, patient, strong 
and silent is the embodiment of AMca. Egyptian kings 
marched their armies south in search of gold, Arab slave- 
raiders harried the villages of inland AMca to supply the 
slave-markets of Arabia. ‘ Ottoman conquerors sought to 
penetrate its mysteries, and still the Sphinx looked on, in 
silent yet eloquent protest against the exploitation of its 
people. The Sphinx has watched like a stern providence 
with earnest eyes and sad countenance the coming of other 
races and the selfishness of men greedy for gain who think 
nothing of the sorrows of Africa. Down the ages the 
Sphinx has challenged every would-be explorer and 
exploiter to stop and think before going farther. As one 
stands and watches the Sphinx one almost expects to hear 
it speak, yet no sound is heard, although with all the 
eloquence of a great symbol its voice seems to ring across 
the desert in warning. Surely the message of the Sphinx is 
this : “ Africa is a great prize only to be won by those who 
will serve her disinterestedly for herself and not for gain ; 
Africa will respond to love alone.” Kings, emperors and 
rulers have marched forward bravely to snatch this prize 
and the desert has rung to the shout of troops on the 
march ; yet the Sphinx has watched and seen empires rise 
and fall, kingdoms spread out and grow, only to pass away. 
For thousands of years men have contended for Africa 
and the soul of Africa has remained as inscrutable as the 
Sphinx, the heart of Africa as unmoved as that great 
block of stone, and all the time Africa has waited for the 
coming of those who, by love and service, will win the 
affection of a suffering people and to whom the heart of 
AMca can respond. 

To-day Islam is contending for the soul of AMca. Can 
Islam meet AMca’s needs ? History shows the blighting 
effects upon a race of a fatalism that decrees a man’s life 
from start to finish. Couple with this the animism of 
Islam and its pagan element and at once a situation 
appears in which African races would develop, with all 



188 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

the fear of spirits^ a faith in an inexorable Gk>d who fixes 
man’s fate from before his birth. Into this situation come 
all the new factors of westernization through trade and 
commerce with the commercializing influences of Europe. 
Is there here anything that is going to create new moral 
and spiritual forces by which the African can be helped ? 
A semi-pagan Islam plus the materialism of the West is 
not going to redeem Africa, and yet Africa awakened and 
educated, mistress of her own destinies — as she some day 
will be — must either rise in spiritual vision to a wholly 
new moral level, or her future will be chaos. Is there 
anywhere, apart from the Christian conception of God and 
life, anything that will win and hold the heart of Africa ? 



CHAPTER X 

THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 

In an earlier chapter we have seen how Mohammed pro- 
jected his faith into a non- Arab world, and how, through 
contacts with other civilizations, Islam changed in out- 
look and to some extent in content. We now turn back 
to Arabia to see how matters fared in the home of Islam 
itself. 

To the Arabs no Abbasides were true caliphs at all, and 
over many parts of Arabia any semblance of control 
disappeared ; during the very period when Baghdad was at 
its zenith and a liberal Islam was shedding the light of 
ancient culture over the world, Arabia was relapsing once 
more into the political chaos of tribal feuds from which it 
had been rescued by Mohammed. Strife broke out con- 
tinually over the pilgrimage, and successive rulers of Mecca 
regarded the pilgrims as their peculiar and legitimate 
plunder. Both Baghdad and Cairo tried to impose a 
suzerainty over Mecca in order to protect the pilgrims, but 
the sufferings of those who attempted the perilous journey 
were a scandal to the whole Moslem world. It was not 
until the Turks came into power that the Hedjaz felt the 
pressure of outside influence. The pilgrim road was once 
more opened, but the Arabs among themselves lived in a 
state of permanent war. 

It would be wearisome to pursue through the centuries 
the story of Arabia, which is remarkably alike in different 
ages. The Arabs, almost wholly illiterate, cut off from the 
outside world and at enmity with one another, lost any 
prestige they ever had. It was the same Arabia as that 
of “ the days of ignorance with the addition of a fanatical 

18S 



190 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


creed. Unity had disappeared and Islamic solidarity had 
become a forgotten dream. 

Throughout this period Moslems of Arabia looked 
askance at the rest of Islam. The changes in custom and 
practice were noted with horror, the lapsing of Moslems 
from the rigid code of Mohammed was looked upon as a sign 
of decay, and the Arabs regarded themselves as custodians 
of the pure faith. They sought to eliminate from Islam 
all outside doctrines and to keep only the simplest tenets. 
They could not understand the new interpretations of 
Moslems living under conditions widely different from those 
of Arabia. Every innovation was to them an offence 
against God. Down the centuries the stem and rigid faith 
of Arabia remained unaltered, and by the eighteenth 
century the cleavage between Arab Islam and the rest of 
the Moslem world was sufficiently pronounced to impress 
the Arabs with the need for reform in Islam. Aristotle, 
Plato, and Greek learning meant nothing to the Arabs. 
The mysticism of Ghazali and the Persians made little 
appeal to men reared in the stern life of the desert. The 
learned centres of Baghdad, Cordova and Cairo were of no 
account to men who found in the Koran all they required. 
Liberal thought had no place in Arabia, and the only 
environment for Islam which an Arab understood was that 
of its original home. It was natural therefore that the 
Arabs should feel that, with the passing of centuries, many 
Moslems had drifted into error, that they had added ,to 
the faith once delivered by Mohammed and departed 
from the rigid simplicity of the Koran. Islam in its 
original conception had remained, and the Arabs were 
true patterns of the Prophet himself. 

Mohammed had been stirred by the idolatry of Mecca, 
and had carried his reformation right through to the 
complete purging of Arabia from idolatry. In much the 
same way an Arab prototype of the Prophet in the 
eighteenth century, viewing with deep concern what he 
thought were evident signs of the growth of idolatry in 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 191 

Islam, determined to rid Arabia at least of these pernicious 
influences and to introduce a movement for the purifica- 
tion of the faith. This was the most momentous event 
in Arabia since the days of Mohammed and introduced 
into Arab life a new force ‘that has grown in importance 
and strength until it has become to-day the dominating 
influence throughout the peninsula. 

It was about the year 1740 that Mohammed Ibn Abd-el- 
Wahhab began his campaign for the reformation of Islam 
on Arab lines. He was a member of the Hanbali sect of 
Moslems, the strictest of the four great schools of Islamic 
thought. He had travelled extensively outside Arabia and 
had studied Moslem law in Baghdad. Wherever he had 
gone he had seen signs of change, laxities and superstitions 
among Moslems. His soul was stirred by his visit to the 
Shiah shrine at Kerbela, and to him Moslems appeared to be 
steeped in idolatry. What he really witnessed was Islam 
freed from its desert environment, but to him there could 
be no Islam that was not Arab. He saw the influence of 
other cults and beliefs on Islam — the sacred shrines, the 
richly ornamented tombs, the luxury of the people, prayers 
to saints ; and the superstitions of the age called forth his 
scorn and criticism. He was deeply versed in Mohammedan 
law, and a little insight into the variations of Islam in 
different countries showed him the marked difference be- 
tween Islam, as Mohammed had conceived it, and the faith 
as expressed in the practice of the people outside Arabia. 
Even in Arabia he saw signs of the influence of these lax 
views of the law of the Prophet. At Mecca and Medina 
he witnessed customs and ceremonies in connection with 
the pilgrimage many of which, he felt, were contrary to 
the real spirit of Islam ; but it was the lives of Mos- 
lems themselves that really alarmed him. They had lost 
the simplicity of the Prophet and were living in a worldly 
atmosphere of ease and comfort instead of, as he be- 
lieved to be right, practising the self-denying austerity of 
the seventh century. 



192 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


He returned to Arabia with a burning sense of shame for 
his co-religionists. God was dishonoured. Islam was in 
danger, and the faith must be purged and purified if the 
glory of Islam were to return once more to the land. 

His teaching won a ready response among the Bedouin. 
Much in the same way as Mohammed had fired them with 
religious and martial zeal did Abd-el-Wahhab stir the 
imaginations of these desert folk. His was a gospel of 
simplicity. He preached Paradise to the faithful and the 
terrors of hell to the unbeliever. The Bedouin had drifted 
into a mechanical religion with a large admixture of 
paganism, but they were fired, as their forefathers had been 
before them, by the message of a living faith that called for 
warlike action. His preaching soon aroused the fears and 
jealousy of the heads of the faith, and Abd-el-Wahhab, 
like Mohammed, had to flee for his life. He took refuge 
in Daraiya under the protection of Mohammed Ibn Saoud, 
the Emir of Nejd, who became a convert to the new 
teaching. At this stage, when once more an Arab chief was 
drawing the sword in order to carry out reforms and defend 
the honour of Allah, we may pause and look at some of the 
special points of Wahhabi teaching. 

We have to imagine the growth of authority in Islam 
through centuries of Islamic rule and learning, during 
which time new customs, ceremonies and teaching came 
to be accepted as Islamic. A Moslem who disagreed with 
these generally accepted principles tilted against recog- 
nized orthodox authority which laid down the correct 
interpretations of the Koran. Abd-el-Wahhab in his 
denunciations of what he called idolatry in Islam soon 
found himself in conflict with the whole weight of Moslem 
opinion. His dilemma was similar to that of Protestants 
who were in opposition to much in Roman practice, and 
were faced with the authority of the Roman Church. 
Abd-el-Wahhab adopted a thoroughly Protestant principle. 
He demanded the right of private judgment. He rejected 
the idea that only the learned scholars of Islam could 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 198 

interpret the Koran. On the contrary, he claimed that 
any true believer with sufficient education to read and 
understand the Koran could judge for himself in matters 
of doctrine. 

This principle he applied to the doctrine of mediatorship, 
or the intercession of the saints. It is generally held by 
Moslems that Mohammed is a living intercessor for them 
at the throne of God. Abd-el-Wahhab taught that at the 
last day only would Mohammed, by permission of God, 
be allowed to intercede for his followers and that until 
then no intercession was possible. He claimed that the 
Koran, rightly interpreted, taught this. Chap. 20, v. 108, 
reads : “ No intercession shall avail on that day, save 
his whom the Merciful shall allow and whose words He 
shall approve.” There has grown up for centuries in 
Islam a whole cult on this doctrine of intercession. Prophets 
and saints are invoked for aid on every conceivable occasion. 
The issue was clear-cut and definite. Abd-el-Wahhab took 
his stand on the Koran, and declared that no intercessors 
are necessary in this life for the believer’s approach to God. 
God is directly accessible to ail, and without any media- 
tion whatever. It will readily be seen that this reformer 
had seized upon two very vital principles, namely, the 
right of private judgment, and the direct access of the 
soul to God. 

There followed naturally in Wahhabi teaching the deduc- 
tion that, if these two principles were right, no believer 
was tied by the authoritative interpretations of the Koran, 
and all the rites that the doctrine of the intercession of 
saints had introduced were anti-Moslem and forbidden. 
Consequently, the decoration and the illumination of 
saints’ tombs, the reverence paid to the tombs, and par- 
ticularly the obeisance at the Prophet’s tomb in Medina, 
were forbidden. Many Moslem festivals were proscribed, 
and the number reduced to four. Women were forbidden 
to visit the graves because wailing and weeping were 
considered to be wrong. The use of the rosary, charms, 

N 



194 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

and amulets was banned, and everything was done to reduce 
Islam to the primitive simplicity of the Prophet’s day. 
The whole movement was the answer of Arab Islam to the 
Moslem world in its development under the cultural and 
racial influences of other lands. Arabia was sundered by 
tribal jealousies and feuds much as in Mohammed’s day, 
and Abd-el-Wahhab, with his new ally, Mohammed Ibn 
Saoud, the Emir, drew the sword, as the Prophet had done, 
to compel Arabia to accept a purified faith and to unite 
under one rule. Unity was to be won at the edge of the 
sword. Compulsion was to be used until Arabia had been 
purged of error. 

The Bedouin of the Nejd joined the movement, and 
responded to a call to arms to defend the honour of Allah. 
It looked as though the world was to witness yet another 
swarming period of the Arab race. In 1761 Abd-el-Aziz, 
the son of the Emir, led an army through Mesopotamia 
to Kerbela, the sacred city of the Shiahs in Persia, and 
cleansed the city of all traces of idolatry. The tomb of 
Hussein was stripped, and the rich treasures with which 
it was ornamented went to fill the coffers of the Wahhabi 
army. By the close of the eighteenth century the Wah- 
habis had made their power felt from the Euphrates to 
the Red Sea. The army, after its incursion into Persia, 
turned its attention to Mecca and Medina, and in 1808 
Mecca was captured. In the same year Abd-el-Aziz, after 
brilliantly leading his followers to victory, was assassinated 
by a Persian in revenge for the pillage of Kerbela. He was 
succeeded by his eldest son, Saoud, who displayed even 
greater military prowess than his father. The capture of 
Mecca at last wakened the Moslem world to the fact that 
a new power had arisen. Saoud carried out in the sacred 
city the most thorough reforms. Smoking was forbidden 
by the Wahhabis, and a great bonfire was made of all the 
tobacco and pipes that could be collected in the city. So 
stringent were the rules that a woman caught smol^g in 
the seclusion of the harem waS' dragged forth, moxmted on 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 195 

a donkey, and paraded throv^h the streets with a pipe 
suspended from her neck as a warning to others. All 
rosaries and charms were forbidden, and were destroyed 
whenever they were found. The worldliness of the 
Meccans was attacked, and the use of silks and satins was 
banned. The administration of the city was taken over 
by the Wahhabis, and where laws appeared to conflict with 
the rules of Mohanuned they were immediately cancelled 
and new laws substituted. 

Mecca having been captured and purified, Saoud wrote 
to the Sultan of Turkey as follows : — 

Saoud to Salim — I entered Mecca on the fourth day 
of Muharrem, in the 1218th year of the Hijrah. I kept 
peace towards the inhabitants and destroyed all things 
that were idolatrously worshipped. I aboUshed all taxes 
except those required by the law. I desire that you will 
give orders to the rulers of Damascus and Cairo not to come 
up to the sacred city with the Mahmal, and with trumpets 
and drums. Religion is not profited by these things. May 
the peace and blessing of God be with you. 

What the Sultan of Turkey felt about the reformer may 
well be imagined. Turkish taxes were gone, the Ottoman 
authority was flouted, and the Mahmal forbidden entry 
into Mecca. Before the end of the year Saoud had captured 
Medina also, and even the tomb of the Prophet did not 
escape his puritanical zeal. The richly ornamented dome 
of the tomb was destroyed, and other damage done. 

For nine years the Wahhabis ruled in Mecca, and at 
length the Sultan of Turkey, afraid for his own throne, was 
roused to action, and Mohammed Ali, the Khedive of 
Egypt, was ordered to march against Saoud and to suppress 
the Wahhabi movement. It was while the Turkish Army 
was being mobilized that Saoud died (1814). He was 
succeeded by his son Abdullah, who at the commencement 
of his reign had to meet a strong Turkish force. He was 
defeated and eventually taken prisoner and sent to 
Constantinople, where he was publicly executed as a rebel 



196 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

in 1818. Turki, Abdullah’s son, abandoned the struggle 
and fled to Riyadh, where he was assassinated. 

The Wahhabis in their brief and meteoric career had 
come very near to complete success. They had subdued all 
North Arabia, captured and despoiled the sacred cities of 
Islam, penetrated into Persia, and spread their doctrine of 
holy war far and wide. Their success and defeat alike were 
due to their reactionary policy, which scorned all liberal 
thought, and to their reforming zeal, which thoroughly 
frightened the rest of the Moslem world. Their clear-cut 
gospel of simplicity was the strength of the movement 
within Arabia, but it was its undoing in the world outside. 
Ibn Saoud had to face political difficulties outside his land 
that were beyond his powers. Religious fervour could not 
solve them, and Turkey had a better military equipment 
and greater resources than the Arabs. They alienated 
many who honestly wanted reforms by their insistence 
upon trivial matters. The suppression of smoking, brass 
bands, silks, satins, rosaries, prayers and offerings to saints, 
and many other things, only irritated, where a little 
diplomacy might have won support. The destruction of 
the Prophet’s tomb was the final blow, and the Moslem 
world was enraged at this act of barbarism. Turkey, 
appealed to by Mohammedans everywhere, had delivered 
Mecca and Medina from Wahhabi control, and with typi- 
cal Ottoman thoroughness in such matters, had crushed 
the Wahhabis beyond hope of recovery. 

Although the Wahhabi movement was at an end in 
Arabia, it had exercised in its brief period of conquest an 
influence through the world of Islam and far beyond the 
frontiers of Arabia. The pilgrimage, while the Wahhabis 
were in occupation of the sacred city, was a great oppor- 
tunity for propaganda. Moslems from distant lands were 
fired with a new zeal for the faith and they returned to their 
homes with a great resolve to see Islam supreme and to use 
the sword for the conversion of people to the faith. While 
the Wahhabis were canying on their campaign in Arabia 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 


197 


there came to Mecca a Sudanese, Sheikh Othman dan Fodio 
of the Fula tribe. He was soon converted to the Wahhabi 
doctrines, and, as has been already related, he returned to 
West Africa to unite the scattered members of his tribe 
under the banner of an Islamic holy war. He turned his 
people from a peaceable and pastoral tribe into a fanatical 
army, which immediately commenced a war for the con- 
quest of the western Sudan. The spread of Islam in Nigeria 
owes much to this period. The campaign, in fact, only 
came to an end with the British occupation of Nigeria in 
1900. 

At the same time there appeared in Mecca pilgrims from 
Sumatra who caught the vision of world dominion by 
Islam through a jihad. They returned to the Dutch East 
Indies to form an army of wild fanatical Moslems who 
declared war upon their pagan neighbours in Sumatra, and 
in the name of God and Mohammed carried fire and sword 
through the country. Moslems in England and France 
may preach toleration and declare that “ there is no 
compulsion in Islam,” but here is an instance, one of many, 
when the sword was freely used to compel a pagan people 
to accept Mohammedanism and where the murder followed 
swiftly of all who would not submit to Islam. Women 
were violated, villages burned and children sold as slaves. 
These atrocities were only put down finally by the inter- 
vention of the Dutch Government.^ 

Sayed Ahmed of Oudh, India, also a pilgrim at Mecca 
during the Wahhabi occupation, returned to India as a 
whole-hearted disciple of Abd-el-Wahhab and commenced 
a holy war against the Sikhs, which was only ended by 
British intervention.^ 

There are other instances of Wahhabi influence in Africa. 
The Sennousi owe much of their zeal to Abd-el-Wahhab, but 
enough has been said to show how the doctrine of holy wars 

^ For a full account of this holy war the reader is referred to Der Islam in 
Batakland, and Isla7n and Christendom, by Dr Gottfried Simon, p. 16. 

* See Sir William Hunter’s The Indian Musvhnans, p. 61. 



Ids THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

can fire the imagination of primitive people and lead to 
imtold miseries. In these days when facts of this kind 
are being denied by the teachers of a new Islam, it should 
be remembered that the only toleration which the non* 
Moslem races of India, Sumatra, Nigeria and elsewhere 
ever received was through the influence and power of 
western Christian nations. These lands owe nothing of 
their freedom to Islam. It was in spite of Moslem wars 
and of Islamic teaching that freedom was secured by 
European powers. 

It is at rare moments in history only that Arabia has 
produced men of world fame. Mohammed was such a one, 
and in the Saouds of Nejd there were all the makings of 
others. After their overthrow the Wahhabis lived for years 
a quiet and uneventful existence, unnoticed by the outside 
world, despised by the people of the Hedjaz, and few, if 
any, imagined that imdemeath the calm of a desert life 
there burned a consuming fire. But the old spirit of Islam 
was not dead. The faith that had stirred the imagination 
of desert Bedouin was still there. The hatred of “an 
idolatrous Islam ’’ roused all the old fanaticisms as fiercely 
as ever, but shorn of all military power the Wahhabis ap- 
peared as a harmless though bigoted tribe. Sullenly they 
retired to the fastnesses of their desert home to wait, with 
all the infinite patience so characteristic of the Arabs, for 
a better day. The faith that had driven an Arab army 
half-way round the world in the seventh century and at 
the end of the eighteenth century had subdued almost all 
Arabia could not be quenched so easily. 

Mr WilMd Blunt, in the Fviwe of Islam, wrote in the 
year 1882 : 

The present condition of the Wahhabis as a sect is one 
of decline. In India, I believe, and in other parts of 
southern Asia, their missionaries still make converts and 
their preachers are held in high esteem. But, at their 
home m Arabia, their zeal has waxed cold. The Ibn Saoud 
dynasty no longer holds the first position in Nejd, and Ibn 



THE REVIVAL OP ARAB ISLAM 196 

Rachid,'^who has taken their'^place, though nominally a 
Wahhabi, has little of the Wahhabi hmaticism. 

Mr Blunt goes on to say, “Islam is no longer asleep, 
and were another and wiser Abd-el-Wahhab to appear, 
not as a heretic, but in the body of the orthodox sect, 
he might play the part of a Loyola or a Borromeo with 
success.” 

Before the nineteenth century closed, however, a further 
factor was brought into the situation. Abdul Hamid, the 
Sultan of Turkey, began to strengthen his hold upon Arabia. 
He determined to have a highway of his own to the holy 
cities of Mecca and Medina, and a scheme was launched 
for the building of a railway from Damascus, through the 
Hauran plain and Transjordania, to Medina. Moslems all 
over the Islamic world were appealed to for donations 
towards this iron pilgrim way. By 1908 it had reached as 
far as the gates of Medina, but opposition from the Arabs 
prevented its extension to Mecca. This angered the Sultan, 
who promptly deposed the ruling Emir of Mecca, and 
Hussein, his nephew, who had spent long years in Constanti* 
nople, was appointed Sherif. The Turkish garrisons were 
strengthened, and the Sultan sought to expand his influ- 
ence down to the Persian Gulf. But while the Arabs were 
prepared to acknowledge the Sultan as caliph in their 
prayers in the mosques they stoutly resisted anything that 
would curtail their independence. Behind Turkey was 
a Teutonic imperial policy which aimed at undermining 
British influence in South Arabia. 

As the twentieth century opened on Arabia, Turkey 
was tightening her grip on the peninsula, the Arabs were 
straining every nerve to maintain their independence, 
and the Wahhabis were slowly regaining strength and 
preparing for a further struggle for supremacy. The 
Turkish military nmchine was pitted against the fierce 
individualism of the desert. The jealousy of tribes and 
inter-tribal feuds made it comparatively easy for the astute 



200 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Ottoman to play one tribe off against another, but neither 
Mecpan Arabs nor officials of the Sublime Porte reckoned 
upon the advent of an overpowering personality who 
would gain the affections of the people and rise to sufficient 
strength to unite Arabia under his rule. 

While Turkey discussed the strategic centres of the 
country the Arabs, in the heart of Arabia, laughed at 
strategy as they watched the rise of a new personality more 
potent than armies, more powerful than organization, and 
more far-reaching than all military strategy. Ibn Saoud, 
or to give him his full title, Abdul Aziz bin Feisul bin 
Saoud — the lawful heir to the emirate of Nejd, appeared 
in Riyadh. He soon gained control of the Wahhabi people 
and rapidly extended his authority over inland Arabia. 
Within twenty years he drove the Turks out of Katif on 
the Persian Gulf and deposed his chief rival, Ibn Rachid, 
who had been an officer under the Wahhabi government. 
This man’s family had for the past fifty years been the 
greatest Arab chiefs in Arabia, and now Ibn Saoud, with 
lightning rapidity, had driven him out of Hail and made 
himself master of his dominions. 

What the Arabs had been waiting for was a leader, a 
personality that would win their loyalty and hold their 
allegiance, and Ibn Saoud was that man. Not since the 
days of Mohammed had Arabia seen such a commander. 
No one since the seventh century had fired the hearts of 
desert Arabs in the same way. He is renowned for his 
hospitality, and the poorest never go away unfed. He 
espouses the cause of the oppressed, and his even-handed 
justice has given security to the weak and the helpless. 
His word is law, and there is no appeal against a judgment 
pronounced by him. He is a tall, commanding figure, 
more than six feet high, and equally well proportioned. 
There is nothing of the pomp of power in this son of the 
desert. The ostentation of sultans is entirely absent 
from bis court. Ibn Saoud dresses in a simple white robe 
over which is thrown a brown cloak ; his feet are shod 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 201 

with sandals, and he is almost indistinguishable from his 
subjects. His face is swarthy, and his beard is trimmed 
in true Wahhabi style. His dwelling is a camel-hair tent 
and he receives his guests sitting on a sheep-skin. His 
rugged countenance displays all the characteristics of the 
Arab race. His soft brown eyes, a magnetic smile, and 
a gracious manner quickly capture the admiration of all 
who meet him. One who visited him in his desert home 
writes : 

I have now met all the kings of Arabia, and I find no one 
among them bigger than this man, I came to him with an 
unburdened heart, bearing him neither hatred nor love, 
accepting neither the English view of him nor that of the 
Hedjaz. I came to him, in fact, with a hard heart and 
a critical mind, and I can say that he captured my heart 
at the first meeting.^ 

Ibn Saoud, with all his charm, is swept at times with 
storms of passion, and then his features assume a savage 
expression. He is terrible in his wrath, and woe to those 
who incur it. But his anger is quickly over, and this Arab 
with a warm heart and a big soul, rugged and unaffected, 
is a veritable knight. He is guide, philosopher, friend, ruler, 
judge and advocate to more than half Arabia. He is the 
greatest Arab since Mohammed’s day. His exploits would 
fill volumes, and are related in tent and town from Aden to 
Amman. 

A man who can lead three hundred Arabs against a 
walled city and drive out two regiments of Turkish soldiers, 
a man who can unite warring tribes of Arabia as they have 
hardly been united since the days of Mohammed himself, and 
who can administer his country so well that property has 
trebled in value, is a real leader. He is more than that — ^he 
is one of the world’s born kings.^ 

Through the pre-war days of the twentieth century Ibn 
Saoud grew in power. What was the secret of his success ? 

^ Asia, August 1926, p. 734. 

2 Paul Harrison, The Aral>a at Home, p. 131. 



202 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

First of all, religion. This, with the Wahhabis, is not 
a matter for a few learned sheikhs. It is the concern of 
every member of the community. Faith in Allah is a great 
reality, and the voice of the desert finds a living echo in 
the Bedouin heart. God is Great, Supreme, Omnipotent, 
and the Wahhabi bends his head to the sands of the desert 
in surrender and obedience to Him. The gospel of 
simplicity, preached over a hundred years ago, has come 
to life again, and inland Arabia to-day is in the throes of 
a great religious revival on puritan lines. This awakening 
means something personal in religion to every man who sees 
the vision of old Abd-el-Wahhab. It began by an effort to 
instruct the Bedouin in the faith. Those thus instructed 
were witnesses, and were told to pass on the message and 
instruct others. They were then banded together in a 
society called the Akhwan or brotherhood. The rules 
are strict, and the five daily prayers are compulsory to all 
Wahhabis. Anyone who absents himself without good 
cause is haled before a judge and siunmarily condemned to 
a public beating. Tobacco-smoking is strictly forbidden, 
and men have been known to lose their lives for indulgence 
in this habit ! 

The mentality of a people who regard the smoking of 
a pipe as great a sin as adtiltery and even murder is diffi- 
cult for a westerner to xmderstand, but to the Wahhabi if 
a thing is forbidden it is dishonouring to God to allow it. 
A Wahhabi watching one day a richly dressed sheikh enter 
a house remarked, “ God will doubtless forgive murder, and 
lies, and theft, but He will never forgive clothes like that.” ^ 
This brotherhood is not just a new Dervish order — ^it is 
not, in fact, connected with any Dervish order at all, nor 
has it any organization. Its members are distinguished by 
their white turbans, and they are bound together by a 
common purpose. Their task is to pass on the message, and 
religioiis instruction is given daily. No wonder such fiery 
zeal is wrinning converts all over Arabia. By the fire of 
> Paul Harruon, The Arahe at Borne, p. 222. 



208 


THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 

« 

a new-born faith and the sword of God these people are 
rapidly becoming masters of all Arabia. 

Education forms no small part of Ibn Saoud’s programme. 
It is estimated that two-thirds of the people in inland Arabia 
can read the Koran, and many of them can write also. 
While Wahhabi tenets are adhered to with fierce fanaticism 
yet no ban is placed on literature from outside Arabia. 
Newspapers and books from Egypt find their way into the 
heart of Arabia, and there are many contacts with the 
outside worid. Theology is a concern of the state. What 
a man should believe is prescribed by law, and swift 
punishment overtakes those who show signs of thinking 
for themselves. Human life is cheap in the desert, 
and of small account compared with the integrity of the 
truth. In battle the Wahhabis seem to court death. 
Their ambition is a martyr’s death on the battle- 
field while fighting in a holy war for God and Moham- 
med. Fear is unknown to them, and once embarked 
upon an expedition there is no hardship which they will not 
endure. 

When war began in 1914 the Wahhabis were pre- 
dominant in inland Arabia, but Mecca and Medina were 
closed to them. The Sherif of Mecca had a permanent feud 
against Ibn Saoud. Perhaps memories of the early part 
of the eighteenth century gave the Hedjaz folk a feeling of 
femr lest Ibn Saoud should do what his great-grandfather 
had done and capture Mecca once more. Hussein, the 
Sherif, was in a difficulty. To the south were his enemies 
the Wahhabis, the Turks were in occupation of his territory, 
and he had to decide whether to risk a possible attack from 
Ibn Saoud and revolt against Turkey, or side with Turkey 
and come completely under Ottoman authority. Hussein 
decided to throw in his lot with the allies. Ibn Saoud 
was bought off by a British subsidy, and a truce was kept 
between the two rival Arab chiefs throughout the war. 
When the war was over Ibn Saoud and Hussein both strove 
for the leadership of Arabia. Hussein, as a reward for his 



204 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

part in the war against Turkey, became an independent 
monarch and assumed the title of king. When Turkey 
deposed the caliph King Hussein saw the opportimity of 
fulfilling a long-cherished ambition and declared himself 
Caliph of Islam. This threw him once more into direct 
opposition to Ibn Saoud, who saw that if this claim was 
established and accepted the Wahhabis would ultimately 
come under the control of Hussein; and war followed. 
Beyond typical tribal raids little was done during 1922 
and the following year ; both sides were preparing for the 
struggle. In 1924 it was evident that war to a finish 
was contemplated, and Ibn Saoud, who denoimced King 
Hussein as a usurper of the caliphate, took the offensive. 
The Hedjaz army was defeated, and Mecca was once more 
captured by the Wahhabi troops. Jiddah was invaded, 
and King Hussein abdicated in favour of his eldest son Ali 
and fled to Cyprus. 

The great pilgrimage was celebrated in 1925 under the 
auspices of the Wahhabis, who acted with moderation and 
care. The report of an attack on the holy places called 
forth bitter comments from Persia. An official statement 
from the Persian legation in September 1925 says : 

Available information shows that the Wahhabis when 
occupying Mecca destroyed the Holy Place and the tomb 
of Khadijah [wife of the Prophet], and in their recent 
attack on Medina they also bombarded the tomb of the 
Prophet himself and the Mosque of Hamza, the uncle of 
the Prophet.^ 

This news caused a great sensation in Moslem lands, 
and Persia celebrated September 5th as a day of national 
mourning. Moslems in India were equally disturbed, and 
big public meetings of protest were held in Bombay, and 
a one-day strike in the public markets took place as a 
protest against Wahhabi desecration. Later on Ibn Saoud 
issued an official denial of these charges, but from eye- 

^ Quoted in Daily Telegraph, 7th September 1925. 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 205 

witnesses it is clear that while the story of the damage to 
the dome of the Prophet’s mosque and the tomb of Hamza 
is untrue, yet at Mecca the damage was considerable. The 
tombs of Khadijah and Amina, wives of the Prophet, have 
been completely destroyed.' A number of other tombs were 
razed to the ground. This demolition of the domed tombs, 
as Ibn Saoud pointed out, was in accordance with the 
Wahhabi creed that tombs used for veneration and worship 
should be destroyed. A survey of the situation shows that 
the present Wahhabi ruler, while strongly puritan, is very 
anxious not to rouse the Moslem world against him. He 
has offered to rebuild the tombs if Moslems wish, and his 
policy is on the whole conciliatory.^ 

In December 1925, Jiddah, the last important place in 
the Hedjaz, fell into the hands of the Wahhabis after a 
siege that had lasted many weeks. King Ali abdicated, 
renounced all claim to the caliphate and sailed from 
Jiddah for Baghdad, where he joined his brother, King 
Feisul of Mesopotamia. Ibn Saoud’s domination of the 
Hedjaz was now complete, and once more the Wahhabis 
have made themselves paramount in Arabia. 

The Moslem world was sore at the Wahhabi bombard- 
ment of sacred places, but Mohammedans of India and 
elsewhere have a strange way of forgetting their grievances 
when a Moslem leader rises to power and is successful. 
Opinion rapidly veered round in favour of Ibn Saoud, who 
at once took advantage of this by inviting various Moham- 
medan powers to send representatives to Mecca to discuss 
the future control of the holy places. His one condition 
was that neither King Hussein nor his sons should have 
anything to do with the country in future. He advocated 
that the Hedjaz should have complete autonomy with a 
governor chosen by the people, under a commission repre- 
sentative of various Moslem powers. Ibn Saoud now 
stood before the Moslem world as the ruler of a large and 

^ It is important to remember that this book left the author’s hands in 
January 1928, and that the Moslem world at the moment is a ohanging soene. 



206 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

entirely Islamic country, independent of European control 
and apparently free from western influences. 

After the occupation of Mecca by the Wahhabis the 
Moslem world began to readjust its thinking and to take 
note of this new phenomenon. Turkey had been a terrible 
disappointment to Moslems, and although they admired 
Mustapha Kemal’s military achievements, they strongly 
disagreed with his anti-Moslem policy in regard to the 
caliphate. Here, however, in Arabia, was a man who 
ruled independently of Europe, who was not influenced by 
the West and who was unspoiled by western teaching, a 
Mohammedan and a great military genius. Here at last 
was a centre of unity in Islam, where Islamic affairs could 
be discussed without any western political influence being 
brought to bear upon the deliberations. 

For some time after the deposing of the caliph Moslems 
had talked of a Moslem world conference to decide the 
caliphate question, and Cairo was advocated as the centre 
in which it should be held. A committee was set up at 
the Azhar University and it was arranged to hold a world 
congress of Moslems in May 1926 in Cairo. Invitations 
were sent out to Abdul Krim of Morocco, the King of 
Persia, Ibn Saoud of Arabia, the Amir of Afghanistan and 
to the Moslem conununities in India. When the con- 
gress met it was by no means representative of the Moslem 
world. Arabia would have none of it and other countries 
too stood aside on the ground that Egypt, being imder 
the domination of Britain, was an unsuitable coimtry for 
such a gathering. In spite of obstacles, however, the 
congress sought to discuss fully the caliphate problem. 
Four issues were before the delegates : 

The definition of the caliphate. 

The qualifications necessary for a true caliph. 

The manner in which the caliphate should operate in 
future. 

The question as to whether it is possible to find anyone 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 207 

who could fulfil the legal conditions of a caliph at 
the present time. 

The caliphate was defined by the congress as “ the office 
of spiritual and temporal chief of the Moslems.” Em- 
phasis was laid upon the fact that a true caliph must hold 
both spiritual and temporal powers. It was ruled, no 
doubt out of respect for the position of the late caliph- 
sultans of Turkey, that a Moslem could reach the supreme 
office by conquest. 

Ibn Saoud’s reply to the efforts of the Azhar University 
of Cairo was to call a world Moslem congress of his own at 
Mecca, for which he chose the pilgrim season of 1926. 
Invitations were sent out far and wide, and as the time 
drew near it was seen that many parts of the Islamic 
world would be represented. Ibn Saoud advocated the 
holding of a conference annually, this gathering to be the 
first. His policy was year by year to discuss Moslem 
affairs and to review the situation in order to safeguard 
the future of Islam. It was an attempt to create a new 
spirit of brotherhood and unity among the divided and 
warring sects of Islam. 

All delegates to the conference were also pilgrims, and 
before they left Jiddah they had to shave and uncover 
their heads and to dress in the orthodox pilgrim costume, 
which consists of only two white sheets, one for the upper 
part of the body and the other for the lower. It was 
surely a sign of the times that educated men from India 
and elsewhere performed this pilgrimage, dressed in 
nothing but two white strips of cloth, in motor lorries. 
Before the conference began the delegates performed the 
ceremony of encircling the Kaaba seven times and other 
rites of the pilgrimage. Having gone through this ordeal 
satisfactorily, they were allowed to don their ordinary 
clothes. The second day was spent entirely in prayer, 
and in performing the many duties ordained for those who 
visit the Holy City. 



208 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

In an interview which Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah had with 
Ibn Saoud, he taxed him with the responsibility for the 
massacre at Taif, the robbing of Moslems of the Hedjaz 
who were not Wahhabis, and suggested that if this sort 
of thing were done in the heart of Islam — Arabia — “ Islam 
might fall a victim to the caprice and whim of any con- 
quering clan or tribe which might happen to seize Mecca.” 
The king, in reply, gave a long account of the evils of King 
Hussein and his family, and declared that they were not 
true Moslems at all, but because they were under foreign 
influence they were anti-Moslem. He spoke of the im- 
morality, drunkenness and slavery which existed under 
the regime of King Hussein, and added that when his 
troops entered Mecca and Taif they could not believe that 
they were in a Moslem land at all. “ A Moslem is a 
Moslem if he acts according to the book and not because 
he possesses a Moslem name,” he added. 

In outlining his policy the king said : 

It is my desire to show to the whole universe that 
Musulmans, be they negroes or Englishmen, stand on the 
same footing, can eat together, can hold the same appoint- 
ments, can have the same freedom and affection and 
thought ; but I must insist that they conform to the true 
dictates of Islam if they are to have all these privileges.^ 

The congress proper opened on June 6, 1926, in the old 
Turkish Artillery barracks. Many Moslem countries were 
represented. The delegation was as follows : Russia 7, 
Hedjaz 12, Java 5, India 12, Nejd 6, Asir 8, Palestine 8, 
Syria 8. The Sudan and Egypt were represented by 
direct nominations of the king himself. 

It is significant that Turkey, Persia, Iraq, and the 
Yemen refused to send delegates. The Persians were 
alienated by the damage to the sacred tombs at Mecca. 
The Turks relented and a representative was sent to 
Mecca from Angora. Iraq is ruled by King Feisul, the 
^ Quoted in The, 23rd July 1926. 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 


209 


son of the deposed King of the Hedjaz, and the Yemen 
people are known to be in opposition to the Wahhabi 
movement. 

The congress was opened by the king in person. He 
spoke of the need for reform and uplift in Islam, of the 
demands of the country for betterment. He invited the 
co-operation of the delegates in the moral and social 
improvement of the Hedjaz, and declared that “ the 
government is being run on the lines of the Koran.” 

After this there appear to have been acute differences 
of opinion as to who should be chairman, and Sirdar 
Ikbal Ali Shah, who was present, remarks : 

Had not some one judiciously hinted that this was a 
serious gathering of responsible men assembled to solve 
certain vexed problems and not a vegetable market, 
matters might have descended to abuse and blows. 

When the question of voting came up an Indian delegate, 
speaking (strange to say) in English, demanded more 
votes than the Arabs on the ground that there were more 
Moslems in India. This was ruled out, and the congress 
began its work. For the importance of such a gathering 
as the “ All World Moslem Congress,” the subjects dis- 
cussed were almost trivial. Few seemed to touch the 
Moslem world as a whole, and most of the time was taken 
up in discussing Arab affairs. The purchase of the pro- 
perty round the Holy Place at Mecca with a view to 
making a broad avenue of trees was raised, and, in view 
of vested interests, was referred to a sub-committee. The 
proposal to build a railway between Jiddah and Mecca 
and the linking of it with the Medina-Damascus line 
occupied three whole days, and it was agreed to appeal 
for money in all Islamic lands. The profits from the 
railway were to be divided so as to give one-half to the 
Sultan Ibn Saoud, and the other half to the upkeep of 
the railway. This is surely a unique way of floating a 
railway company I Apparently the Arabs are not pre- 
o 



210 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

pared to spend any money themselves on the railway. It 
was decided to establish hospitals and base camps for 
pilgrims. Perhaps the most amazing decision was that 
each delegate at congresses in future years must sub- 
scribe three hundred pounds towards the nmning expenses 
of the congress. 

This extraordinary gathering may make us smile, as its 
proceedings appear to have been anything but satis- 
factory, and the cleavages in Islam were apparent from 
the first. But the problem we have to consider is — ^What 
moral force lies behind the ideal which called this congress 
together ? Will a spirit of xmity grow out of this movement 
that will spread to the rank and file of Moslems and thus 
create a new, strong and powerful Islam ? 

One searches the published reports of this congress to 
find what was said about the caliph, but in vain. If the 
subject came up at all it appears to have been shelved as 
the king would not allow subjects to be discussed which 
would arouse controversy in Moslem countries. There are 
many claimants for the office, and yet no one who aspires 
to the post has any general support. The idea at the 
back of all these discussions seems to be the establishment 
of a league of Moslem nations, the president of which would 
be a democratic caliph. The caliphate, it is argued, should 
be a representative institution, and not a personal office. The 
plan is for it to function through a permanent assembly of 
responsible delegates representing the whole Moslem world. 

That this idea is in germ in the minds of those who met 
at Mecca seems clear. They have agreed to meet regularly, 
but the Moslem world has to reckon with the king, Ibn 
Saoud. He, like his prototype, is an Arab of the Arabs, 
and his movement is a reaction against present-day 
tendencies in the Moslem world. It is based, as the king 
said, on the Koran. These are the very elements in the 
past that have spelt stagnation. It was only when the 
firm hand of Mecca was removed and Islam adapted itself 
to non-Arab ways that progress came. Arabia has always 



THE REVIVAL OF ARAB ISLAM 211 

stood for orthodoxy, and Arabia is one of the most back- 
ward countries in the world to-day. Can Moslems of India, 
Egypt, and Turkey, who are educated and enlightened, 
submit to Wahhabi dictation and rule ? If not, how can 
unity come from the Arabs, the most disunited people on 
earth ? The fierce individualism of Arabia does not lend 
itself to world co-operation. The fanaticism of Wahhabi 
warriors creates scorn in such places as Cairo. The 
difficulties in the way of real unity are colossal, and yet the 
whole trend among Moslems is to get together and to 
discuss their differences. The importance of the congress 
was not so much in the public gatherings of the delegates 
as in the group disciissions that were held at intervals 
between the plenary sessions. 

We have seen how, when the Wahhabis formerly occupied 
Mecca, a fierce wave of fanaticism spread to India, Nigeria, 
and other lands. This time efforts seem to have been 
made to curb fanatical outbursts and to minimize the 
harsher elements of Wahhabism. Ibn Saoud, as we have 
seen, has made himself master of most of Arabia. He will 
probably go on to absorb the whole country, and there his 
limits seem to be fixed. If he moves in any direction out- 
side Arabia he will at once come into conflict with Great 
Britain. On the east lies Mesopotamia with King Feisul, 
a bitter enemy of everything Wahhabi, on the south is Aden, 
a British Protectorate, and on the north Transjordania 
under a British mandate. Egypt has no love for the present 
ruler of Mecca. If Ibn Saoud enforces his Wahhabi tenets 
then all hope of unity with other Moslem lands will 
vanish. If the pilgrims are to conform to Wahhabi ways 
then again trouble is ahead. We have already seen the 
struggle between liberal and conservative forces, and while 
liberalism in general is on the ascendant it is a strange thing 
that leaders of liberal thought should seek for a centre of 
unity in a reactionary country like Arabia and among a 
people who are fiercely fanatical against the very things 
which they do daily. 



212 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Arabia is one aspect of a complicated situation, but 
Arabia is no longer isolated. It is linked up, in its future 
development, with the rest of the world, and it is for the 
moment the rallying ground of the scattered and divided 
forces of Islam. 

Military conquests in the past have been sterile, and 
Medina, Baghdad, Damascus are pathetic survivals of lost 
opportunities through a lack of any progressive spirit in 
Mohammedanism. Progress has always hitherto been 
checked by the dead hand of traditional authority. The 
Arabs are a splendid race of freedom-loving, independent 
men, with great possibilities, but can the ideals of Islam 
ever be realized through Wahhabism centred in Arabia ? 
Other influences are making themselves felt. Western 
commerce is coming in like a flood. Education is develop- 
ing, and much of the old fanaticism of the eighteenth 
century has already disappeared. Ibn Saoud and his 
brotherhood may yet introduce religious revival through- 
out Islam, but at present the tendency is for the whole 
movement to be confined to Arabia, and to be localized 
within the peninsula. The divisive forces of Islam have 
so far proved stronger than the efforts of those who 
seek for a new solidarity. The league of Moslem nations 
is a great dream. It grips the imagination by its very 
title, but it is doubtful whether it will ever be more than 
a dream. 



CHAPTER XI 

ISLAM — MISSIONARY RELIGION 

No better field presents itself for a study of Islam as a 
missionary faith than India. Most of the methods of 
propaganda have been adopted from the time when 
Mohammed ibn Kasim invaded Sind in a.d. 712 down to 
the present day when, through the Ahmadiyyas and 
others, a widespread effort is being made to establish 
Islam as the one religion for the whole world. 

Half a century had scarcely passed since the death of 
Mohammed when the victorious armies of the Prophet 
reached the borders of India. They came in from the north 
and occupied the valley of the Indus about Multan. Forty 
years later the Rajputs succeeded in recapturing Sind 
and they maintained their control over the country for the 
next hundred and fifty years. In spite of military reverses 
Islam made progress and converts were recorded outside 
the region of Moslem authority. In 1019 Mahmud of 
Ghazni overran a large part of Hindustan, but these raids 
were made more with the object of securing booty and 
plunder than of making converts, and “ the proselytizing 
sword seems to have served no other purpose than that 
of sending infidels to hell.” ^ Altogether Mahmud invaded 
North India seventeen times and extended his empire from 
Persia to the Ganges. Multitudes, either to save their lives 
or to escape the tyranny of the Hindus, went over to Islam. 
The Moslems intermarried and became domiciled in India. 
In the following century Mohammed Ghori opened a cam- 
paign for the conquest of all India. He conquered Bengal 
and established himself as an independent sultan. Many 

^ Ariiold*8 Preaching of lalanij p. 210. 



214 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

thousands of the outcastes and untouchables became 
Mohammedans readily, because they thus acquired freedom 
from the slave position to which the caste system had 
condemned them. 

Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries thirty- 
four sultans reigned at Delhi, and Mohammedan conquests 
extended both to the south and east. Islam was con- 
solidated under the wise rule of Akbar (1556-1605). He 
subdued and brought under his authority the kingdoms 
of Gujarat, Bengal, Kashmir, and parts of the Deccan. 
He reconciled the Hindus to his rule, in a measure, by 
a far-seeing policy of conciliation. By the seventeenth 
century the whole of India as far south as Tanjore had 
been brought within the Moghul empire. Islam was 
established, with varying success, from Afghanistan to 
Bengal and from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. The 
religion of the Prophet made many brilliant conquests 
and consolidated its position in the grand monuments of 
€Ui; and literature which are the pride of India to-day. In 
the following century rebellions broke out, the Moghul 
empire began to decline, and the Deccan, Oudh, Bengal 
and other areas gained their independence. But Islam 
was firmly established as one of the great faiths of India, 
and to-day there are about seventy million Moslems in the 
country. 

What then were the forces and influences that turned 
this great body of people from their age-long beliefs to the 
adoption of a creed so widely different from the religious 
instincts of India ? In the early days Moslem invaders 
were canying out a jihad for the conversion of idolaters, 
and although it is easy to exaggerate the influence of 
forcible conversions, yet there can be no doubt that the 
sword, used in unprovoked and aggressive wars, was the 
primary cause of the Islamic advance in India. The 
country, to use the Koranic phrase, was a “ House of War ” 
to the invaders, who boldly acknowledged that they were 
the soldiers of God and His instruments for the conversion 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 


215 


of the infidels. The method adopted was the simple one 
of mercy and judgment. Before an area was attacked it 
was a common practice for the Moslem general to call upon 
the people to forsake their idols and embrace Islam. 
Naturally a Hindu population refused to accept the new 
faith at the bidding of an invader, and this terminated the 
“ mercy ” offered. Judgment speedily followed, and the 
issue was decided by a wholesale carnage of the people and 
the subjugation of the country to Moslem rule ; and if, as 
Moslems believe, all idolaters go to perdition, then these 
early fanatics by their sermon of the sword sent more 
Hindus to hell by slaughter than they saved by forcible 
conversions. Sometimes, after the terrible lessons in other 
areas, Hindus would profess Islam to save themselves 
from disaster. This was notably the case when Hardatta, 
a ruler of Balandshahr, submitted to Mahmud of Ghazni 
in the eleventh century. Hardatta heard of the coming of 
Mahmud and decided that safety coxild only be secured by 
conforming to Islam. He went forth, therefore, with ten 
thousand men to meet Mahmud and to accept Islam and 
renounce his idols. This method of compulsion was used 
intermittently right down to the eighteenth century.^ 
Everything depended upon the Attitude of the ruling 
sultan who, if he were of a proselytizing character, would 
harry with the sword all who refused submission. Others, 
such as Akbar, adopted the opposite plan and gave a wide 
measure of tolerance to their non-Moslem subjects. The 
impulse for holy wars and forced conversion lay in the old 
Arab conception of the faith. Mohammed the Prophet 
had led the way, and those who sought literally to imitate 
him and fully to obey him were filled with a zeal which 
inevitably ended in carnage and slaughter. This is well 
illustrated from an event in the nineteenth century. In 
1826 the Pathan tribes of North India were roused by the 
preaching of a Wahhabi, Sayed Ahmad, who, after a visit 
to Mecca, returned to India to preach a new crusade He 
> See Tht Preaching of Ulam, bj T. W. Arnold, pp. 266 el eej. 



216 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

travelled through Bengal, crossed the north-west frontier, 
and immediately began a jihad against the Sikhs in the 
Punjab. The movement was finally put down by the 
British who, after the annexation of the Punjab in 1839, 
had to send no less than twenty expeditions against these 
fanatical warriors. The trouble was directly traceable to 
Arab-Wahhabi influence and was without doubt due to 
a literal interpretation of the Koran and the example of the 
Prophet.^ 

Granted the primary factor of invasion, holy wars, and 
forced conversions, other forces in the spread of Islam 
quickly made their appearance. With a more or less 
settled Moslem rule court influence counted for much. A 
Mohammedan ruler of the fourteenth century records his 
missionary activity thus : 

I encouraged my infidel subjects to embrace the religion 
of the Prophet, and I proclaimed that every one who re- 
peated the creed and became a Musalman should be 
exempted from the jizyah^ or poll tax. Information of 
this came to the ears of the people at large and great 
numbers of Hindus presented themselves and were 
admitted to the honour of Islam. Thus they came for- 
ward day by day from every quarter, and, adopting the 
faith, were exonerated from the jizyahy and were favoured 
with presents and honours.^ 

This method of peaceful penetration with all the weight 
of a despotic sultan, the lavishing of presents upon con- 
verts, and the remitting of taxes, was no doubt account- 
able for more conversions than holy wars or the use of 
force, but even granting all this — does it account for the 
permanence of the converted and the solidarity of the 
new faith ? Undoubtedly not. To make converts under 
these circumstances was comparatively easy, but to hold 
them and their children permanently within Islam was a 
very different matter. However we may account for it, 

^ See Mohammedan History, a handbook prepared under the direction of 
the historical section of the Foreign Office, No. 57, p. 118. 

* Quoted in The Preaching of Islam, by T. W. Arnold, p. 258. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 217 

we see in Islam a religion, a civilization and a culture 
widely differing from those of Hinduism, yet an essential 
part of the life of India to-day. The faith, first introduced 
by the sword, has taken rool;, has established itself in the 
hearts and lives of millions of people, and has become an 
indigenous religion. Many in India with their mysticism 
and vague pantheistic system of thought were attracted 
by the positive teaching of Islam. The worship of Allah 
gave the Indian something that he could not find in his 
polytheistic creed. Islam stood for reality in religion, and 
as the new faith became known many turned from the 
haziness of uncertainty to the dogmatism of the Koran, 
which “ became a veritable tonic to the life and thought 
of upper India.” ^ 

How far Islam, as a system, attracted the intellectual 
classes in India is difficult to estimate. Whether the 
positive faith of Islam led to numerous conversions one 
does not know, but when we carry this line of investiga- 
tion a stage further and watch the impact of Islam upon the 
lower caste and outcaste Hindus there can be no question 
but that here Islam found a fruitful field and that it is 
one of the chief causes of the widespread acknowledgment 
of Mohammedanism in India. It is a significant fact that 
the population in North India, while preponderating^ 
Moslem, is by no means all Moslem, and in Bengal and 
other parts, where Islamic political power has been weaker 
than in the north, Islam has won notable missionary 
successes. The reason is that military expeditions never 
carried Islam, as an acceptable faith, very far in India, 
but the Moslem preacher who witnessed to a message of 
equality and brotherhood to a down-trodden and despised 
outcaste population won lasting allegiance where the 
sword failed. Arab and Persian traders carried their 
merchandise and trade along the coast and with it their 
faith too. In every land wherever Islam has penetrated 
peacefully the trader has been the greatest missionary 

^ See Bishop Lefroy^s Mankind and the Churchy p. 286, 



218 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

force. He carries no badge of professionalism about him. 
He is not a paid agent of a society. He never organizes 
his work. But the fact that every trader was a missionary 
has brought millions of people into the fold of Islam. We 
have seen how very potent was this influence in Africa. 
It was none the less so in India. The merchant, after 
settling in a town, was never long before he built his 
mosque. This was the centre of all the religious activity, 
and, being on a voluntary basis, the system spread rapidly 
and mosques multiplied. Malabar was Islamized in this 
way, and from there traders carried over the faith to the 
Laccadive and Maidive Islands and the entire population 
of both islands in course of time became Moslem. 

We have already seen how in Persia people, dissatisfied 
with the cold formalism of deistic Islam, brought into it 
a mystical element, a religion of the heart, to meet their 
need. The process of enriching Islam by the adoption of 
mystical thought went on in India as well. Sufiism made 
a strong appeal to the ascetic Indian, and Islam in India, 
at an early date, claimed its list of saints. Hindu pilgrims 
were attracted to Islam as thus presented by mystics and 
holy men, but it was to the poor enslaved untouchables 
that Mohammedanism made its greatest appeal. These 
people, who dragged out a miserable existence of semi- 
starvation in this world, and without a ray of real hope 
for the next, were offered a free entrance into a new social 
organization which broke the fear of caste and lifted them 
out of a slough of despair into a larger freedom and fuller 
life. The influx of large numbers of illiterate people from 
outcaste areas in Islam has not necessarily given the new 
converts any intelligent grasp of their faith, and the 
presence of large nmnbers of Hindus, by whom they are 
generally surrounded, has created a kind of Hinduized 
Islam, where there is little outward difference between 
the people of the two religions. Hindu festivals are often 
kept by Moslems, and oblations offered at the shrines are 
similar to the Hindu custom. Many are lax in their 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 219 

faith through ignorance, but even among the most illiterate 
there are certain marks of Islam that hold the people 
together. The most ignorant know some of the Moslem 
prayers, they all profess one creed which is short and 
simple enough for anyone to grasp, and they are bound 
together by a common loyalty to their Prophet. 

Although education among Moslems in India has been 
hopelessly backward, yet great efforts are being made 
to-day to remedy this. The first real impulse to educa- 
tion came shortly after the Indian Mutiny, when Sayed 
Ahmad Khan founded his University at Aligarh. On its 
educational side it aimed at the reproduction of the 
British public school system. On the religious side it 
sought to modernize Islam and to reform it. With this 
educational movement has come a new orientation of 
Islam, and its adaptation to modern thought and pro- 
gressive ideas. Aligarh, with its enlightened system, 
was able to review the fortunes of Islam and to criticize 
freely its failures. A Moslem professor at Aligarh summed 
up the situation as he saw it thus : 

It was the bad example of the Moulvies ; second, the fatal 
system of modern purdah, with its restrictions on the 
intellectual development of woman ; thirdly, the constant 
and silent withdrawal of the most pious and moral Moslems 
into a life of private prayer and devotion ; and lastly, the 
doctrine of necessity that brought about our downfall. 
I say it was, in my opinion, these four causes that brought 
Moslem society to its present low level of intellect and 
character.^ 

Coming down to the present day, Moslem lesulers are 
faced with the problem of maintaining an essential unity 
over a vast area and among widely differing types of 
Islam. The majority of their people are illiterate, and 
Moslems have to tackle this great task of educating and 
instructing their people or they will lose their hold upon 
them. In addition to this, they still preserve the old 

^ Quoted in Tht Mohammedan World of To-day^ 148. 



220 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

missionary idea and seek to extend the “ House of Islam ” 
by the conversion of Hindus and others. While, there- 
fore, the purpose to-day is the same as when Islam was 
first brought into India, yet the methods, under modem 
conditions of hfe and British rule, have been very largely 
changed to meet the new situation. 

Propaganda in Islam has at present a threefold aim — 
(1) the strengthening of the faith of the believers ; (2) the 
defence of Islam against attack and encroachment from 
other religions ; and (8) the preaching of Islam to non- 
Moslems. To attain this object every known method of 
propaganda has been brought into play. The Koran is 
now translated into the vernacular in order to make its 
teaching accessible to the simple and illiterate classes. 
Some Moslems advocate the use of vernacular prayers, 
and the press is extensively used everywhere in the de- 
fence of Islam. Newspapers and magazines are published 
in all the great vernaculars. In 1857 there were only 
twenty-five papers printed in the vernacular for the whole 
of India and for all religions. To-day there are over 
three thousand newspapers and periodicals, and Islam 
claims of these over two hundred.^ 

Moslems are now organizing missionary societies, and 
are adopting the methods of Christian missionaries. Lec- 
tures on Islam are given regularly, street preaching has 
become a recognized method of Moslem propaganda, and 
tract distribution is common in all the main centres. 
Preachers travel from one end of India to the other ex- 
horting the faithful to give up Hindu practices, to conform 
to the laws of the Koran, and to reform their lives. At 
the same time they lose no opportunity of presenting 
Islam to Hindu audiences. If in the early days of Islam 
the caste system made conversion from Hinduism easy, 
it is much more the case to-day, and thany instances 
could be given where hundreds of outcastes, disgusted 

' See a ohapter on Journalism in the Moslem World in The Moslem World 
of To-day t edited by J. R. Mott, p. 123. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 


221 


with the treatment of their high-caste folk, have em- 
braced Islam. With the growth of education, low-caste 
people are no longer willing to submit to the odium placed 
upon them by their Hindu brethren. They are not the 
docile slaves of former years, and here Islam is pressing 
with all the force that an extensive propaganda can give 
to capture the untouchables for Mohammed. 

A number of actual Moslem missionary societies have 
been formed. One such has its head office in Poona with 
sub-offices at Lahore, Agra, and many other places. In 
the printed literature of this society its aims are thus set 
forth : 

(1) To place the teachings of Islam in their true light 
before Moslems in particular and non-Moslems 
generally ; 

(2) To care for orphans and neglected children irre- 

spective of caste and creed by means of orphanages, 
boys’ and girls’ homes, and industrial schools ; 

(3) To uplift the untouchables ; 

(4) To carry on general relief work. 

This society, in adopting these aims and ideals, was 
roused to activity by a study of facts about the welfare 
of Islam to-day and the opportunity of the moment for 
expansion. Hundreds of thousands of Moslems, they tell 
us, know practically nothing of their faith and are in 
grave danger of drifting into Hinduism. This society 
educates such people and sends out preachers “ to check 
the present deluge of apostasy about which all the Moslem 
press is ablaze.” ^ The chief aim, however, is more than 
the education of backsliding Moslems. It is to reach the 
millions of the depressed classes of India, and to this end 
an enormous literature is in preparation and tracts dealing 
with various aspects of Islam are being distributed free. 

Social service is an important objective. Relief work 

^ For a full account of the work of this society see The Moslem World 
for April 1926, pp. 182-7. 



222 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

was done by the society in Malabar, and it is claimed that 
at least twenty-five thousand lives were saved as a result. 
This relief was given to Hindus as well as Moslems. 
Another purpose which the society keeps in view is the 
counteracting of the work of Christian missionaries. To 
this end centres have been opened where Christians were 
particularly active. The society claims that success in 
actual converts to Islam has attended the effort. In 
Jammu alone, in a single month, about five thousand 
men, women and children became Moslems. There are 
now five orphanages at Poona, Ahmadnagar and Calicut 
with about three hundred children in them. The 
orphanages seek chiefly to admit children, newly con- 
verted to Islam, from the outcastes. Seventeen schools 
are run by the society, and lectures are given in govern- 
ment Urdu schools and in the Training College at Poona. 
In industrial work classes have been started in tailoring, 
carpentry and weaving. It is significant that the society 
does not concern itself with higher education but con- 
centrates upon the depressed people and hopes to train, 
from among the orphans, a band of preachers who will 
witness to Islam throughout India. The cost per mis- 
sionary to the society is about one hundred rupees a 
month. In the future programme of work plans are 
being made for the opening of new industrial homes, 
medical stations and dispensaries, and an additional 
hundred schools. 

It is curious that the most active body of Moslems in 
propaganda work among people of other faiths is the 
Ahmadiyyat, a sect which is regarded as heretical by 
orthodox Islam. This sect was foimded in 1889 by Hazrat 
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who, at the age of fifty-four, de- 
clared himself to be a heaven-sent prophet. He was a 
man of good family and by lineage a Moghul. His father 
was a physician and Mirza Ahmad as a young man studied 
medicine. He seems to have had leanings towards 
Sufiism and for a time he lived the life of a recluse. In 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 228 

his prophetic office he was putting forth a claim that 
contradicted Mohammed, who asserted that he was the 
last and final prophet. Ahmad, through his many links 
with Indian life, saw the world waiting expectantly for a 
prophet to arise. The Hindus centred their hopes in the 
advent of Nehu Kalank Avatar, the Christians were 
looking for the reappearing of Jesus Christ, and the 
Moslems were waiting for the Mahdi. All these expecta- 
tions, Ahmad claimed, found fulfilment in himself. He 
set out, therefore, to propoimd a new revelation by which 
he hoped to unite both Islam and Christianity. He 
defines his position thus : 

The mantle of divinity is cast upon the person who is 
thus favoured of God and he becomes a mirror for the 
image of the Divine Being. This is the secret of the words 
spoken by the holy prophet : “ He that hath seen me 
hath seen God.” I shall be guilty of a great injustice if 
I hide the fact that I have been raised to this spiritual 
pre-eminence.^ 

In regard to his great work in the world he tells us : 

The task for which God has appointed me is that I 
should, by removing obstacles which have been set up 
between man and his Maker, re-establish in the hearts of 
men love and devotion to God, and by making manifest 
the truth should put an end to all religious wars and 
strife and thus lay the foundations of abiding peace.^ 

The programme put out by Mirza Ahmad includes the 
search for the solution of the moral and spiritual diffi- 
culties of to-day, the relief and succour of the oppressed, 
the restoration of the rights of those who have been 

' Quoted in Modern Movements among Moslems ^ by Dr S. G. Wilson, p. 133. 

* Ahmadiyyai or the True Islamy by Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ad-Din Mahmud 
Ahmad, p. 22. This book is the most authoritative work on the Ahmadiyyat 
published. The writer is the head of the sect and sets forth in clear terms 
the evidence for the founder*s claims and the ideals which lie behind the 
movement to-day. 



224 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


despoiled, the abolition of all war, the unification of man- 
kind under one leader with one common faith and creed, 
the purification of Islam from error and the propagation of 
the faith throughout the world. 

In regard to Christianity he accepted the virgin birth of 
Jesus Christ, but denied the crucifixion, and, in its place, 
taught that Christ was placed in the tomb in a state of 
unconsciousness and that when He rose from it He went to 
Afghanistan and Kashmir. Ultimately He died a natural 
death and was buried at Srinagar. This “ swoon theory ” 
of the resurrection has long been abandoned by scholars, 
but Mirza Ahmad, without the learning of the West at his 
disposal, revived it as an answer to the Christian doctrine 
of the Atonement. He placed himself in open opposition 
to much in Christianity, but it is only fair to say that he 
has been equally opposed to many things in Islam, as for 
example to the Jihad, which he said has proved a curse 
to Mohammedanism. 

This new sect had no sooner been launched than it met 
with a storm of abuse from Mohammedans, and throughout 
Mirza Ahmad’s lifetime he was subjected to bitter hostility 
from the Moslems of India. In spite of this his following 
increased. He proved himself an able propagandist, and 
made extensive use of the press for the publication of tracts, 
magazines, and other literature. Converts have multiplied 
mostly from Islam, and this sect is among the most enter- 
prising in missionary efforts in Mohammedanism. Unlike 
the Bahai movement, which has definitely broken with 
Islam, the Ahmadiyyat continues within the Moslem fold. 
While they profess loyalty to Mohammed and the Koran, 
yet a new interpretation has been given to many parts of the 
book. The supremacy of Mohammed is challenged in the 
claim that Mirza Ahmad made to be a prophet, and the new 
revelation he spoke of has introduced many novel elements 
into Islam, if this sect may be still regarded as a part of the 
old faith. On the spiritual side Ahmad taught that there 
are three stages in the union of the soul with God. The 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 225 

first stage is when the soul finds acceptance before God in 
prayer. The second when revelation comes to the soul, and 
the third in the final stage, when man becomes the mani- 
festation of divine attributes.^ 

It is, however, not so much the tenets of this sect with 
which we are here concerned as its propaganda. Mirza 
Ahmad died in 1908 and a split in the sect followed his 
death. One section, headed by the son of the founder, 
continued at Qadian to uphold the faith as given them by 
Ahmad. The other party transferred its headquarters to 
Lahore. Its members sought to approximate their ideas 
more closely to orthodox Islam, while at the same time 
standing for a progressive policy. Both sections are equally 
zealous in the dissemination of their faith, and missionary 
work stands in the very forefront of their programmes. 
Both have sought to establish Moslem missions in many 
parts of the world, and both have their missionaries at work 
in England. The Qadian people, the real Ahmadiyyat, 
have a centre at Putney, and the Lahore party, who now 
disown any connection with Qadian, have a mosque at 
Woking. Two magazines are published to advocate the 
cause of Islam — The Review of Religions from Putney, and 
The Islamic Review from Woking. A quantity of literature 
is printed and circulated in England, and it is claimed that 
a number of British people have become Moslem. Thus, 
while Christian missionaries are carrying the Gospel to 
Moslem lands, Moslems are organizing missions for the 
conversion of England to Islam. The Koran has been 
published from Woking with parallel Arabic and English 
texts. It is printed on India paper, and is bound very 
much like the Bible. The Review of Religions tells us that 
“ regular Moslem missions are working in all parts of the 
globe — England, Germany, America, Australia, East and 
West Africa, Trinidad, Philippines, Hong-Kong, Mauritius, 
and the Straits Settlements, and are gaining converts in 
large numbers, not from the poor classes like Christianity, 

^ The True Islam, p. 114. 

P 



226 


THE EXPANSION OE ISLAM 


but from educated and high-class people, in the teeth of all 
opposition put in their way by Christian priests.” ^ 

Into the religious reviv^ of Islam in India there comes 
a further complication which can only be referred to in 
passing. The political situation, with the strong national 
spirit that has been aroused, has made leaders of Hinduism 
and Islam seek to draw together. The Hindu-Moslem 
Alliance was formed to enable Indians of all creeds to 
present a united front in their demands for national in- 
dependence. Similar alliances have been formed in 
Palestine between Arabs and Christians, and in Egypt 
between Moslems and Copts, and in the excitement and 
fervour of an anti-western campaign Moslems, Hindus 
and Christians have fraternized on the basis of common 
national aims. On the surface it has looked as though 
nationality transcends religion, and that unity is possible ; 
but in the religious temperament of the East, where faith 
is the deepest instinct in life, these alliances have always 
so far broken up as one or other party has sought to 
make religious capital out of the political situation. 

The leaders in India may be correct when they state that 
without religious unity there can be no national existence, 
but to a missionary faith, such as Islam, it is a fixed principle 
that religious unity can only be obtained by the absorption 
of all other faiths within the “ House of Islam.” Some 
Hindus, knowing well this aspect of Mohammedanism, seek 
to make the first approach towards imity by pictmes of an 
ideal Islam as the exponent of the spiritual idealism of Asia. 
So eager are they to co-operate with Moslems that they com- 
pletely forget their past history, when Hinduism was laid in 
the dust by invading armies of Islam. Islam, it is argued, 
has changed, and the day has come for mutual toleration 
and a new synthesis in religion wherein Krishna and 
Mohammed can join hands, smd the disciples of both faiths 
can unite in the one purpose of national unity. This effort 
to build a bridge between Hinduism and Islam is, virtually, 
‘ Revitw of Sdigiont, Ooi 1026, p. 17. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 227 

an attempt to unite the Allah of Arabia with the many 
gods of India. 

In the higher regions of thought the leaders on both sides 
may come to a mutual understanding where each would 
respect the faith of the other : but all such alliances are 
jeopardized constantly by the undercurrents of racial 
differences and religious antagonisms among the common 
folk. Nor is it only among the masses that difficulties 
to unity appear, for the very programme of Moslems for 
India to-day makes the capture of Hinduism for Islam an 
important feature in propaganda. To some extent this 
may be said of Hindus too. In the United Provinces there 
has been recently a strong movement to win back to 
Hinduism the Malkanas, who were originally Hindus. The 
Moplah rising in 1921 was an instance of a Moslem attempt 
to convert forcibly to Islam a large body of Hindus. It is 
not, however, through isolated cases of this sort that the 
Hindu-Moslem Alliance is wrecked, but because Islam is 
working night and day for the conversion of Hindus and 
cannot co-operate politically without seeking to make capi- 
tal out of it for the faith. So potent does this spread 
of Islam appear that even Sir Rabindranath Tagore pre- 
dicts that Mohammedans will soon gain supremacy over the 
Hindus, bringing India again under Mohammedan rule. 

India’s greatest problem to-day is due to Hindu-Moslem 
communal strife. This conflict, which at times has taken 
the form of common street brawls and bazaar riots, is by no 
means confined to the lower classes and illiterates. News- 
paper editors have entered the arena and a lively campaign 
is conducted on the lines of abuse and attack, thus engen- 
dering bitterness and hatred over a wide area between the 
people of the two religions. Such strife has an important 
bearing upon the future status of India. Both Moslems and 
Hindus are working for a position of supremacy in any 
form of democracy which may be granted to the country. 
Sir Mohammed Shaft, a former member of the viceregal 
executive council, writing in the Indian Review, says : 



228 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


When entire conununities start running amok, with the 
result that perfectly innocent Moslems, Hindus and 
Sikhs are butchered openly in the streets, not beeause 
they are themselves responsible for crimes committed in 
wanton disregard of all human laws, but 8imj)ty because 
they happen to profess their respective faiths, it is childish 
to talk of fuU responsible government or Dominion status 
for India.^ 

Islam with its eye on the future is alive to its own peril 
in India. Moslems in spite of their great influence are a 
minority of the population. They are surroxmded by 
Hindus, and they are making great efforts to strengthen 
their own position and to spread their faith in the hope 
that some day they may dominate India as in the days of 
old. 

We now turn to look at this same Indian movement as it 
is developing in other parts of the world. India has become 
the home base for Moslem missionary propaganda in many 
countries. The most remarkable aspect of this is probably 
the attempt to present Islam to Europe and America as the 
best faith for western people. As Christianity is the pre- 
• dominant faith in the West, propaganda takes the form of 
unceasing attacks upon the Christian creed. A Moslem’s 
view of Christianity to-day is that it is impracticable. 
Christians, they assert, do not take the laws of Jesus 
Christ seriously nor do they live up to them. If they 
did try to carry them out, they are so extreme that chaos 
would immediately follow. The Sermon on the Mount is 
described as very nice in theory, but business and com- 
mercial life to-day prove that it does not work. The 
Gospels are attacked as being full of inconsistencies. The 
Divinity of Christ is a permanent stumbling-block. The 
crucifixion is rejected in favoiur of the swoon theory, and 
the resurrection thus becomes a myth. The abuse of intoxi- 
cating liquor in the West is put down to Christianity, and 
the miracle recorded in St John ii. 1-11 is made responsible 
^ Quoted in Th% TifM9, Sth August 1927. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 229 

for the drink evil of to-day. The complicated theology of 
the Christian faith, particidarly the doctrine of the Trinity, 
is compared with the simple and direct creed of Islam. 
Trinitarianism is ridicule.d and Unitarianism upheld as 
the truth. Polygamy is defended by a comparison with 
the records of western divorce courts and moral scandals 
in Christian countries. The very civilization, progress, and 
science of the West are attributed to Islam, and we are told 
that most of our modem civilization is borrowed from Islam. 
A Moslem writer thus sums up the Christian faith : 

It is morally impracticable ; it is intellectually incon- 
sistent ; it is socially insufficient ; it is scientifically 
inferior. In all these respects I find Islam sufficient ana 
satisfactory.^ 

Islam is passing through a transition stage in many 
lands to-day, but in spite of ferment and upheaval there 
is a considerable body of Moslems who, undeterred by 
disintegrating forces and seeking to apply modem thought 
to their faith, believe that Islam still has a message for the 
world. A study of Islamic literature on this subject shows 
that most articles and books written about Islam as a 
world religion contain a great deal of abuse of Christianity, 
and the line of argument generally adopted is that, since 
Christianity has failed, it is now the turn of Islam to meet 
the world’s need. The Moslem’s view of his own religion, 
when preaching it in the West, is that Mohammed was the 
chosen of God to disperse the darkness of the whole world, 
and that he appeared in Arabia, the blackest spot on the 
face of the earth, and there in the world’s darkest place 
he brought the message of Islam. Islam means the com- 
plete subjugation of the human will to the will of God, and 
this Moslems tell us means “ Divine guidance in the working 
out of the real object of religion.” The potentialities of 
human nature are stressed, and Moslems claim that through 
Islam these are developed into practical realities on the 
^ TK% Jiissionar^ Rwitw of th€ World, Oot. 1920, p. 777. 



280 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

moral and spiritual plane. The Islamic Beoiew^ has a 
remarkable passage on God as immanent in human nature. 
It is remarkable because of its different conception of God 
from that given in the Koran and from that taught by 
many orthodox Moslems in the Near East and India to-day. 
It reads : 

The Creative Agency in us is concealed in our pstssions 
in their initial form ; we have to remove these coverings 
that impede the pro^ss, and thus bring the divine flame 
smouldering in our hearts to full lustre. If our clay was 
fashioned after the image of the Lord we have to vivify 
the dust with divine life. Something of God is in us and 
we must manifest it. It is to achieve this grand end that 
the message [of Islam] ordains that certain of the ex- 
cellent names of God be recited when a Moslem invokes 
divine help in his prayers. 

To this picture of God as pervading all life is added the 
idea that belief in God establishes equality between man 
and man “ and germinates these democratic ideas which 
are the true health of human society in mundane affairs.” 
Democracy, we are told, is “ the child of Islam.” From 
this is built up the beautiful edifice of the Gospel of Eman- 
cipation. It is an easy step from this to show that 
Mohammed safeguarded the sacred rights of womanhood 
and that he did more for women than any other prophet. 
However far-fetched this picture may appear to western 
people, it is the presentation of Islam which is being given 
to the West to-day. To understand how Moslems wish 
Europe to interpret present-day Islam we must give more 
fully the Islamic point of view on cmrent topics of the day 
as affected by the Moslem ideal and teaching. 

World unity is a subject widely discussed from many 
angles, and Islam makes the claim that from the advent 
of Mohammed a new note came into the life of the world. 
” For the first time,” we are told, “men were compelled to 
leave their old narrow conceptions and join the brotherhood 
* For December 1926, p. 404. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 281 

of humanity.” ^ This is illustrated by Moslem writers 
from the Islamic universities where members of the black, 
yellow, and white races come together as brothers to study 
at the feet of Moslem teachers. This world unity through 
Islam is described as the forerunner of the League of Nations 
and kindred organizations for the peace of the world. 
Moslems regard the existence of the League of Nations as 
a proof of the failure of Christianity and a sign that the 
world is feeling after what is essentially Islamic. While 
the history of Islam scarcely bears out the claims thus put 
forward, it is of interest to note the lines of approach 
adopted by Moslems to the western mind. “ The spirit 
of practical democracy and socialism as imbued in Islam 
paves for us,” says Mr Haniffa, “ the path towards the 
edifice of Moslem brotherhood, an everlasting monument 
to the glory of Islam,” 

Thus the language, thought, programme and social out- 
look of the West have been borrowed by Moslems to clothe 
in a new and attractive garb the tenets of Islam. The jihad 
is given a new definition. It now means ” to strive hard,” 
Moslems tell us, for physical, mental and moral perfection. 
The Arabian idea of a holy war that meant conquest by 
the sword is thrown over. The fact that to this very day 
Moslem preachers in the mosques of Egypt and other lands 
hold a large sword in their hands while dehvering their 
discourses is not mentioned in western propaganda. 
Some sects of Islam, notably the Ahmadiyyat, denounce 
the whole idea of holy wars as wrong, and we are now asked 
to beheve that of all faiths Islam is the most tolerant. 
History is the only test of such a claim, and the whole 
history of Islam contradicts the statement. Lord Headley 
gives us an interesting account of his conversion to Islam. 
He says ; 

Speaking personally, I can only say that until I cast aside 
all pretence of the dogmas being necessary to my salvation 

^ Islamic BevUw. 



282 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

I never felt comfort or peace, but when I finally took the 
step, the lines — 

Dear Father, Thou art very near ; 

I feel Thy presence ever^pmere 
In darkest night, in brightest day 
To show the path, direct the way. 

became reality and I was happier than I ever was before. 

Such an experience is full of interest, but we ask — “ Is 
this Islam ? ” The Moslem creed is surely pure dogma — 
“ There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Prophet 
of God,” and no Moslem can hope for heaven who does 
not accept and testify to the truth of this dogma. Then 
the beautiful verse quoted would help any earnest seeker 
after God, but “ Dear Father ” is not Islamic at all. It is 
a purely Christian conception of God. Islam denies the 
Fatherhood of God and execrates the New Testament 
doctrine of God as Father. This is a good illustration of the 
Christian colour given to-day to the western expression of 
Islam. Most of the ideas so attractive to western readers 
are simply Christian teaching clothed in Moslem language 
and uttered now in the name of Islam. 

In the foregoing chapters we have seen Islam adapt itself 
to the varying conditions of the countries occupied. Thus 
we see Islam still in some places, for instance Arabia, as 
hidebound, prejudiced and narrow, while in Persia we see 
how the mystical element has softened the Arab complexion 
of the faith and given it an eastern and spiritual tone. In 
Turkey it appears as democratic and progressive, but where 
in any Moslem land do we see it accepted and professed as 
it is represented by those who seek the Islamization of the 
West ? The developments within Islam are full of interest, 
and we have no criticism to make of a people who^are seek- 
ing to adapt their faith to modern requirements ; but this 
western type does not appear to be true to any accepted 
standard in any Moslem land to-day. It is pure and 
unadulterated propaganda in which we are given a picture, 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 288 

not of Islam as it is revealed in history, nor of Islam as it 
is practised in the Moslem world, nor of Islam as defined in 
the Koran and the Traditions, but a new cult, in which much 
that is considered by orthodox Moslems as fundamental 
is omitted. 

In this propaganda, Moslems tell us, as we have already 
noticed, that the main contest is between Christianity and 
Islam, and it is interesting to note the wayin which a Moslem 
presents his faith to Christian people. First and foremost 
is placed the necessity of a good knowledge of the language 
of the country to which the missionary goes. Then follows 
what is described as “ reading the foreign character.” The 
missionary is warned to address the people in “ ways suited 
to their fancy,” The Englishman is selected as good prey, 
and he is not to be frightened by threats nor terrorized by 
pictures of hell, but to be approached by sound reasoning. 
Heated argument is to be avoided, because the Englishman 
hates emotionalism, and the missionary must speak with 
calm and dignity, using dispassionate argument. Christi- 
anity, we are told, is losing ground, and it must ultimately 
be replaced by Islam. “Religion is indispensable,” says 
a Moslem, “ one must follow one religion or the other. If 
Christianity goes what will be the religion of the West ? 
Islam is the only reply to the question.” Moslems are 
encouraged in this task by being told that hundreds of 
thousands of people in England, tired of Christianity, are 
unconsciously following Islam. The ground, they believe, is 
already prepared, and the Moslem has now only to sow the 
good seed in order to reap a rich harvest in the conversion 
of thousands of English people to Islam. 

Similar propaganda methods are in vogue in other 
countries of Europe and particularly in America. Every 
up-to-date method of the West is employed to attract the 
West to Islam. By immigration from Moslem countries 
there are about sixty thousand Mohammedans in America, 
and the Ahmadiyyat are making their appeal to the negroes 
there on the ground of equality of race. 



284 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

A society has been founded for the active promotion of 
real Islamic brotherhood among the new converts. It 
will be known as the Ikhwan [Brotherhood] and the 
members shall meet together during the week, or fort- 
nightly, at the house of each other so as to know each 
other well. For the first time in their lives they will see 
something like Moslem brotherhood and what it stands 
for. Christianity has crushed this spirit out of the body 
politic, yet it is this spirit of brotherhood which every 
religious leader came to establish. It is totally absent 
in Clnistian countries, which shows that Christianity’s days 
of usefulness are over.^ 

Moslems claim that in Yonkers, New York, there are 
nine hundred Moslems, all white men, who hold regular 
Islamic services, though so far it has not been possible to 
obtain any verification of this statement. In St Louis 
the Moslem agent regrets that he has not been able to 
persuade a single white man to embrace Islam. StiU the 
work goes on and an organized attempt, emanating from 
India, is being made to win the western world for Islam. 

Turning now to other parts of the world, in China we find 
a similar extensive propaganda. An International Moslem 
Association has been formed for the Far East. It is to be, 
so says The Light of Islam, a periodical published in 
Shanghai, a preliminary step for its future participation 
in a united association of Moslems for the world. Its aim 
is to spread Islam in China by means of lectures, magazines, 
Moslem libraries and schools. The first step in this 
propaganda is to be the translation of the Koran into 
Chinese and the publication of an Islamic history in China. 
The founders of this association tell us that they are con- 
vinced that “ none of the actually prevailing religions in the 
world is sufficiently fit for the promotion of human welfare 
and the present age,” and therefore Islam is to be taught 
as the one faith worthy of acceptance by all. A great 
effort is being made to arouse the imams of the mosques 
to renewed activity, and it is proposed to invite leading 
' The Moelem Sunriu, Jan. 1924, quoted in The MotUm World, July 1926, p. 266. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 286 

Moslems from other lands to visit China to help in the 
propaganda of Islam. ^ 

In 1925 three Moslem missionaries sailed from India for 
China, and the Indian Social Reformer makes this the basis 
of an appeal to young men to answer the call of duty to 
Islam in preference to building up their fortunes at home. 

Some years ago a forward movement was started by the 
Moslems of Peking, and within a few years about two 
thousand branches had been established throughout the 
country. All these activities are aimed at the welding of 
the Moslems of China into a unity. Hospitality is a great 
factor in this, and as Moslems move about over wide areas 
of the country, inns have been opened by Moslems and 
mosques have been built. In some cases the mosques have 
guest rooms and club-houses attached to them. Scattered 
Mohammedans are thus made to feel a sense of kinship with 
their brethren in other places and the idea of brotherhood is 
fostered. Another important factor is the pilgrimage to 
the tombs of Moslem saints. Each shrine forms a centre 
where the faithful meet. They discuss their cause and learn 
the news of events in other and often far-distant parts of the 
Islamic world. While much of this scheme is on paper, 
and a great deal may never mean more than talk, yet it all 
goes to show the trend of thought and the missionary aims 
of Islam. Every year some Chinese Moslems make the 
pilgrimage to Mecca and return with all the prestige of 
hadjis to China to further the world-wide cause of Islam. 
Moslems are to be found among all classes of the population, 
and although ninety per cent of them are wholly illiterate, 
yet the mullahs who read Arabic are pressing forward with 
the education of the people, and Young Men’s Moslem 
Associations have been started on the lines of the Y.M.C.A. 

In the Dutch East Indies there has been recently a 
revival of Islam. Education has played a prominent part 
and bookshops have been opened in many centres with 
a large supply of Moslem literature. The Dervish orders 
^ See The Moslem World, April 1926, p. 193. 



286 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

are very active and they are producing books in four or five 
languages. Publications from Woking (England) are on 
sale, and every effort is being made to spread Islam among 
the non-Moslem population. New societies have been 
formed for the revival of religion, and nationalism is being 
exploited on the ground that Islam is democratic and 
universal. 

In Trinidad, where the Moslems felt their faith was in 
danger because of Christian missions, a special Moham- 
medan preacher was sent from India. 

Under the new constitution in Egypt legations have been 
opened at all the leading capitals of the world. At the 
legations as well as in important diplomatic missions 
Egypt is appointing Moslem chaplains. The object is said 
to be that the chaplains may be able to lead the midday 
prayers on Friday. But it is generally thought that the 
chaplain is an Azhar University representative and is sent 
abroad to uphold Islam and to secure for the religious 
leaders in Egypt a place in the foreign policy of the country. 

A Moslem deputation was sent recently to South Africa 
and lectures on Islam were given in many places. From 
the published accounts of the tour these lectures seem to 
have consisted largely in a denunciation of Christianity. 
The brotherhood of Islam was stressed at a time when the 
“ colour ” question was an acute problem.^ South Africa 
was told that there were many converts to Islam in England 
and many others were on the brink. 

While Islam has a different connotation in different 
countries and although the faith is weakened in some 
areas by modern thought, yet a study of the activities of 
Moslems to-day shows Islam as strongly missionary, with 
its organization world-wide. Behind all lies the old ideal 
of a universal faith representative of an empire without 
frontiers and theocratic in government, yet, with all this 
historical idealism, Islam has shown in recent years a 
remarkable power of adaptability and a progressive spirit 
* See Th* Itlamie B«mw for May 1026, p. 173. 



ISLAM— A MISSIONARY RELIGION 


287 


in the furtherance of its cause. Modem methods, such as 
propaganda through literature and lectures, have replaced 
the sword; a modem presentation of the religion has 
been substituted for Islam, as it is still preached in the 
orthodox centres. And so, in spite of Turkey’s anti- 
caliphate action, modernism, western thought, agnosticism 
and other influence, Islam still holds up its head proudly 
and challenges the world. 

The challenge is becoming increasingly a challenge to 
Christianity. Both faiths cannot be universal, both claims 
cannot be tme. Islam is striving to undermine the 
Christian faith, to ridicule its doctrines and abuse its work 
in the world in order to establish a world supremacy. The 
issue is thus narrowed down in many areas to Mohammed 
or Christ — ^the Christian conception of God as Father, or 
the Moslem conception of God as Great. The issue will be 
decided in this contest just in so far as each of the two 
religions gets back to the spirit and teaching of its founder. 
Christianity is judged by Moslems by its failures and not 
by its successes. It is condemned because of its followers 
and not because of the ideals of its Founder. The only 
Christian answer to all this propaganda will be a redis- 
covery of the message of Jesus Christ in the hearts and 
lives of men. 



CHAPTER XII 

RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 

The site on which Cairo is built was probably once sea- 
shore where the Nile emptied its mighty floods and 
deposited its rich chocolate-coloured soil. The sea lapped 
round the Mokattam Hills and what is now the Delta was 
then under the ocean. Over a period of many thousands of 
years the Nile spread a thick deposit annually on the shores 
until the sea receded and the Delta was formed. A traveller 
to-day who climbs to the top of the Mokattam Hills 
shortly before sunset sees stretched out before him, not a 
broad expanse of ocean, but one of the richest lands in the 
world. For miles Mother Nile can be seen winding her way 
like some silvery serpent through the desert ; the Pyramids 
rise up in the west, silhouetted against the sky in the soft 
clear light of evening. The sun sets in a blaze of colour 
and the sky from west to east is aflame with the beautiful 
afterglow. 

There, in the stillness, is wafted on the breeze the voices 
of the muezzin calling to prayer from the hundreds of 
minarets of the city. In a long-drawn-out and penetrating 
voice the words are uttered and they carry far and wide : 
“ There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the prophet 
of God. Come to prayer. Come to prayer.” The whole 
city lies at the feet of the traveller. In all directions the 
minarets raise their noble heads, permanent witnesses to 
the power and glory of Islam. Moslem worshippers can 
clearly be seen flocking into the mosques to say their 
prayers. Long-robed and dignified sheikhs pass along 
carrying the sacred Koran. In a patch of open ground 
some Dervishes are holding a Ztfcr, a meeting for the 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 289 


remembrance of the name of God. They form a circle, 
swaying backwards and forwards, and like the beating of 
a mighty engine the sound rises from a hundred throats, 
all in unison, “ Allah, Allah, Allah.” In the distance 
can be seen the outline of the Azhar University with its 
thousands of students, all memorizing the Koran, all 
inspired by a wonderful loyalty to the Prophet. And out 
on the desert a party of camels has halted, the men have 
descended, spread out their prayer-mats, and with the 
universe as their temple and the clear sky for a canopy they 
are bowing in prayer. What are they saying ? Listen — 

Holiness to Thee, O God I 
And praise to Thee ! 

Great is Thy name 1 
Great is Thy greatness ! 

There is no Deity but Thee ! 

Prayer is nearly over, and the worshipper, kneeling on the 
desert with his hands on his knees, says : 

O God and Lord give us the blessings of this life, and also 
the blessings of life everlasting. Save us from the torments 
of hell. 

Then tiuning his head to the right and to the left, as though 
addressing the invisible audience of Moslem believers the 
world over, he ends with “ The peace and mercy of God be 
with you.” 

We linger on at the top of the hill. Prayer is over, the 
people are pouring out into the streets, the camels are 
moving once more at a swinging pace towards the city ; and 
as we watch we waken up to another life, incongruous and 
strange, that mingles with the medieevalism that we have 
just witnessed. As the camels strike the road a big motor- 
car hurries by, frightening the camels and making the 
riders exclaim, “ O wonder of God.” Peace is restored for 
a moment, only to be disturbed again by the loud clang of a 
tram as it hurries along into the city. The Arab mutters. 



240 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

“ We seek thy protection, O God,” but his equilibrium is 
completely upset by the drone of an aeroplane overhead. 
The camels bolt, and all is confusion. Motors draw in to 
the side of the road with an air of profound respect for 
these ships of the desert. People on the road come to the 
rescue, the camels are caught and peace is restored once 
more. Soon the city is reached, and as the traveller descends 
from the hill-top he too joins with the motley throng that 
has for some time been making its way to the capital. 
What a contrast I The calm peace that seemed to pervade 
all is gone. There is nothing but hurry and hustle. People 
dash about, racing along, hustling one another out of the 
way : all in search of something, eager and intent upon 
attaining their object. The newspaper boys dash in and 
out of traffic crying the latest news from London, Morocco 
or Peking. Groups of young men sit at the caf^s discussing 
in loud voices their nationalist aims and views. 

This land with its once narrow and circumscribed outlook 
has been swept into the whirlpool of modern life. The old 
orthodox creed is in conflict with the demands of a new age, 
the culture of Arabia is being smothered by the civilization 
of the West. People turn their faces to Mecca in prayer but 
for the rest of the day their thoughts are all moving west- 
ward. The educational system of the Azhar University is 
being rejected by the very students themselves because it 
does not fit them to meet the economic demands of the day. 
In the bookshops are to be seen the holy Koran side by side 
with the latest French novels, the works of Darwin, and the 
writings of Scott, Dickens and Thackeray. The mixture of 
thought, the rapidity of the changes and the modernizing 
of all forms of life are bewildering, and in the midst of it 
one feels like the camel-driver who invoked the aid of God 
at the sight of an aeroplane. Yet this is typical of the 
Moslem world to-day, a very different world from that of 
even a generation ago. 

In the face of these changes we are reminded of the 
emphatic opinions expressed by so many experts that Islam, 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 241 

rigid and stereotyped, is incapable of reform. Thus the 
late Lord Cromer, in his Modern Egypt, says : 

In dealing with the question of introducing civilization 
into Egypt, it should never be forgotten that Islam cannot 
be reformed ; that is to say, reformed Islam is Islam no 
longer ; it is something else ; we cannot as yet tell what 
it will eventually be.^ 

Sir William Muir wrote in much the same vein : 

Christian nations may advance in civilization, freedom, 
and morality, in philosophy, science, and the arts, but 
Islam stands still. And thus stationary, so far as the 
lessons of history avail, it will remain. 

History certainly gives ground for the view that 
Mohammedanism is incapable of adapting itself to new 
conditions. Arab Islam left to itself does appear to be 
unchanging. Its views of life are inflexible and the system 
makes rather for stagnation than for progress. This is 
apparent in a study of lands under purely Moslem control. 
Arabia is exactly where it was in Mohammed’s day, and 
left to itself there is no apparent reason why it should ever 
change. Pure and undiluted Islam has always spelt 
stagnation because it denies all liberty of thought and 
self-expression except along the rigid and narrow lines of 
an infallible book. 

We have seen in the foregoing chapters, however, that 
undiluted Islam is a very rare thing, that Islamized people 
have given national, racial and cultural colours to Islam 
that never emanated from the Arab mind. Mysticism was 
scarcely a part of the original system but was largely an 
eastern accretion introduced to supply a known lack and 
to meet a felt need. Liberal thought in the Middle Ages 
made Islam the benefactor of the world, and philosophy 
and science were enriched by the writings of learned 
Mohammedans. But the latter were usually regarded by 

^ Modem Bgypt, the EatI of Cromer, vol. ii. p. 229, 



242 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Moslems as heretics and were not infrequently persecuted. 
When opportunity arose every liberal tendency was 
stamped out, and orthodoxy ruled alone and supreme for 
centuries over a people who drifted into decay and mental 
torpor. Liberalism has never been of the essence of Islam. 
It ^d not spring from the desert of Arabia but was one of 
the many enrichments that came to Islam from contact 
with other lands. We see, therefore, that though Islam 
by itself has never shown any powers or capacity for 
progress in either social welfare or intellectual research, 
it has always been susceptible to change as it has been 
affected by outside influences. This is perhaps best 
exemplified by a pictxxre of Islam to-day. Let us imagine 
a village in Egypt. A peasant lives in a mud-built house 
where filth and dirt abound and comfort is almost non- 
existent. There are two boys in the family who for a time 
attend the local vernacular school, where they memorize 
parts of the Koran and learn to read and write. Islam 
dominates the family life and no outside influences disturb 
seriously the even tenor of habit and custom. The father 
one day decides to send his boys to Cairo for their education. 
The elder boy appears to have brains and is destined for a 
government school where he will eventually take a certifi- 
cate and find a post in a government office as a clerk. This 
the father regards as an investment. He spends money 
on the lad so that in his old age when the lad is earning a 
salary he may live with him or upon him. The other boy, 
keeping up a family tradition, is sent to the Azhar Univer- 
sity to be trained as a religious sheikh. These two boys, 
both astride the same donkey, make their way one morning 
to the nearest railway station. On arrival in Cairo they 
part, the one to study his faith and the other to learn all 
that the West can give in a school where the atmosphere is 
largely English and the teaching both modem and western. 

If we ean picture these same boys meeting again in the 
old home and the clash of views and outlook that is 
inevitable we shall get some idea of the widening gulf 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 248 

between the orthodox conservatives who are the defenders 
of the faith and the modem youth who seek for progress 
and reform. What happens in a single home is also taking 
place in the whole life of the nation and of many nations 
in the Moslem world. The clash of ideas presents a vivid 
contrast, in the present generation, between a seventh- 
century religious belief and a twentieth-century thought 
and culture. The weak spots in Islam appear, and 
desperate efforts are made to repair the breaches, and, it 
must be admitted, mainly with cement from a western 
factory. 

A notable example of this was seen in the ferment caused 
by the publication in 1926 of Dr Taha Hussein’s book on 
pre-Islamic poetry. Dr Taha was Professor of Arabic in 
the Egyptian university at Cairo, and no subject seemed 
more harmless than that of Arab poetry. But Dr Taha 
succeeded in thoroughly annoying the orthodox party 
by his critical method of dealing with his subject, by some 
of his conclusions which were contrary to the cherished 
belief of Moslem leaders, and perhaps most of all by 
his disagreement with the religious ideas of the Azhar 
University. Dr Taha set out to study facts by a scientific 
investigation and to follow truth wherever it might lead 
him. He attacked the methods of study adopted generally 
by Moslem leaders because they subordinated scientific 
inquiry to religious prejudice. “ We could believe and be 
content,” he said, “ had God endowed us with mental lazi- 
ness which makes people cling to the old and to avoid the 
new.” He will have nothing to do with the inertia of a dull 
orthodoxy, and he calls the youth of his country to search 
and inquire, to doubt and to probe. That he owes his in- 
spiration to European influence is made abundantly clear. 
“ If there are in Egypt to-day some who champion the old 
and others who champion the new, then it is because of the 
fact that in Egypt some persons’ minds have been coloured 
by this western colouring, whilst others have got none of it, 
or very little of it.” 



244 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The reason why a book on ancient poetry disturbed the 
faithful was because its conclusions undermined the position 
given to the language of the Koran as the most beautiful 
and correct Arabic in the world. Dr Taha showed that 
similar poetry of equal beauty existed in Arabia before the 
time of Mohammed. Again the book angered Moslems by 
showing that much of the supposed pre-Moslem poetry was 
“ merely concocted and forged after the appearance of 
Islam to establish the authenticity of the prophetship 
(of Mohammed) and the truth of the Prophet ” by showing 
that Jewish rabbis and Christian monks were expecting 
the coming of a prophet who would appear in Mecca. 

This volume was no sooner published than a contro- 
versy arose which nearly produced a parliamentary crisis in 
Egypt in 1926. All copies of the book were bought up and 
destroyed and the matter was brought before the Egyptian 
parliament. One speaker reminded the House that the 
penalty laid down in the Koran for certain religious of- 
fences was stoning, and a resolution was brought forward 
demanding the immediate dismissal of Dr Taha from the 
state university, and that the government should insti- 
tute proceedings in the courts against him. The resolution 
was finally withdrawn after the prime minister had made 
it a matter of confidence in the government.^ 

This little book and the storm it created mil help to show 
the cleavage between the old Islamic party and the new 
thought that is so apparent to-day. It is, as we have seen, 
by no means confined to Egypt; in every Moslem land there 
is in varying degrees a similar struggle for religious liberty 
and fireedom. The orthodox are straining every nerve to 
check heresy, and the liberal youth of Islam are determined 
to win the day. 

Mohammedan lands have been invaded by the traveller, 
the tourist, the trader, the missionary and the ambassadors 
of western nations. This has led to the opening up of 

* For ft fall ftoooont of tUa book lee Dr Taha Hvtttin and his Critics, by 
S. A. Monifton. 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 246 

hitherto inaccessible lands. Railways, motor roads, steam- 
ships and other means of transport have made travel easy. 
This has not only increased the tourist traffic; it has 
afforded new facihties for Moslems to travel, and while 
the Moslem East has been invaded by the globe-trotter, the 
West has witnessed a strange influx of dusky-skinned men 
from Moslem lands. They have met traders in their own 
land and have carried their trade into all the capitals of 
Europe. Their sons have found their way into most of the 
universities of the West, and wealthier Moslems have made 
a practice of spending the summer in Europe in exactly 
the same way as Europeans have wintered in Cairo or 
Jerusalem. The turning to Mecca in prayer was a symbolic 
act, designed to fix the mind on Mecca, but to-day more 
Moslems visit Europe annually than go to Mecca, and the 
educated classes are now looking to the West for inspiration, 
guidance and education. 

During the past fifty years there has been a general 
awakening throughout Islam to the need of education. As 
Moslem countries have been brought into contact with 
European life they have realized the immense differences 
which separate their people from those of the West. The 
complete dependence of the Moslem world on Europe for 
machinery, industrial and agricultural, has opened the eyes 
of many to the backwardness of their own lands. The 
result has been that every Moslem country has sought 
to develop a new educational system. Even the most 
backward races have awakened, and where a couple of 
generations ago education was despised and considered 
unnecessary, to-day we find national systems and schools 
provided by law and supported from state funds. The 
remarkable thing is that in almost every case these new 
systems are modelled on the European plan. 

Where Moslem countries have been under the “ protec- 
tion ” of a European power, education has developed at 
a much greater rate than in purely Islamic states. Thus 
Islam, after making its impact on the non-Arab world, has 



246 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

reached the position where it in turn is being influenced, 
and in many ways completely changed, by western 
education and life. The first impacts of this modem 
movement tended to make the eastern people a duU copy 
of westerners, but Moslems are now alive to this danger, 
and they seek, while adopting western scientific methods, 
to recast them in eastern and Islamic moulds. European 
methods of education have, however, wrought great 
changes. The spirit of democracy to-day has come in 
from the West. The desire for an open mind in the 
pursuit of knowledge, the determination to test and prove 
things, and the willingness to accept ideas whether Koranic 
or not are gains of great value. The greatest gain, of 
course, has been the ever-increasing number of Moslems 
who can read and write. A new literacy has brought with 
it a fresh intelligence on many social problems in Islam. 
Superstition, prejudices, and intolerance are being super- 
seded by a new knowledge of science, and with the growth 
of education comes the demand for facing social evils 
and for reforms on modern lines. 

Education has brought with it the study of foreign 
languages and increasingly is the literature of Europe open 
to the Moslem world. Students return to their home lands 
to translate the learning of the West into Arabic, thus 
widening still further the circle of occidental influence. 

The demand for literatme is a natural outcome of the 
new literacy. The output is enormous. The bookshops 
that stock purely Islamic literature are relegated usually 
to back streets and are small and insignificant. Those 
where the literature of all coimtries is supplied are large 
and floxirishing establishments, and the European book- 
sellers say that their best customers are young Moslems I 
Journalism is of comparatively recent date, yet it is making 
rapid strides. The first newspaper appeared in Turkey 
in 1882, but even in the reign of the Sultan Abdid Hamid 
newspapers from abroad were always censored before being 
delivered to their owners. Anything considered unfit for 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 247 


Turkish eyes was blocked out with thick black bars. In 
1860 there appeared the Terjumani-Ahval, the first news- 
paper of a modem movement which we have seen sweep 
away sultan, caliph, autocracy, Islamic law and a do^en 
ancient institutions. 

The victory of modernism in Turkey has in no small 
measure been due to the influenee of the press. Women 
are making use of literature extensively in their propa- 
ganda, and in Persia at least three papers for the advocacy 
of women’s rights are edited by women. Probably over 
ninety per cent of the Arabic-speaking world are still 
illiterate, and this fact might give the impression that 
literature can have little scope in lands where so small a 
proportion of the people can read, yet the influence of the 
press is out of all proportion to the literates in a country. 
The newspaper finds its way into every hamlet and village, 
and if no one else is available the local sheikh will always 
read aloud the news of the day, and before sunset the whole 
village is talking of the latest politics and of the doings of 
the great world beyond their horizon. 

About a hundred Arabic newspapers and journals are 
published in Egypt : in Syria and Palestine about sixty- 
five. The Moslem press issues magazines and journals of 
one sort or another in Paris, London, Leningrad, New York, 
and of comse in every corner of Islamic lands. 

The press is the main channel for furthering throughout 
the world the revival of Islam that we have seen in Arabia 
and elsewhere. The advocates of pan-Islamism are seeking 
to reunite the broken fragments of the sultan’s policy, and 
literature is being disseminated everywhere appealing 
to Moslems to stir themselves and to reunite in a new 
Islamic brotherhood that will demonstrate to the West the 
solidarity of Islam. From the press there are sounding 
forth two calls. The one comes from Turkey, where the 
cry is “ Onward and forward, nationalism and patriotism 
before Islamic solidarity.” The other voice comes from 
Arabia with the appeal, “ Back to the Koran, back to the 



248 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

Prophet,” and in these two cries we detect again the old 
conflict that has sundered Islam from the days of the 
Prophet. 

The Shiah schism in Persia, the Abbaside modernism of 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries in Baghdad, Averhoes 
in Spain and many others have fought down the ages for 
liberty and freedom of thought. Their successors are to be 
found in Turkey, Eg 3 T)t, India and in fact in most Moslem 
lands where, through the influence of a foreign power in 
control, a wide measme of liberty has been secured. The 
reactionarie.s have always opposed modern tendencies and 
have lived upon the joys of heresy hunting. The stereo- 
typed Islam of Arabia knows no compromise, sanctions no 
liberty outside the covers of the Koran, recognizes no law 
that is not Islamic, allows for no research or learning that 
is not based upon the Prophet’s teaching, sanctions no new 
customs that are not within the historical traditions of the 
faith, brooks no opposition and stamps upon all that is not 
purely Islamic as an accursed thing. 

In 1925 Sheikh Abdal Razik was tried before the Superior 
Council of the Azhar University for heresy in a book that 
he published entitled Islam and the Principles of Government. 
“ In this book the sheikh propounds the theory that the 
Moslem code is intended solely as a guide to personal 
conduct, and not for incorporation in the statutes of the 
state. The author goes on to discuss cxurent Islamic ques- 
tions from an advanced point of view hitherto unknown 
in Egypt. His statements aroused the intense opposition 
of the orthodox Moslem divines, particularly the declaration 
that the caliphate was never an essential and indispensable 
Islamic institution. Anger was also aroused by the sheikh’s 
condemnation of polygamy and his severe criticism of 
Egyptian women.” ^ The remarkable thing in this trial 
was its ineffectiveness. The agitation fell flat and many of 
the newspapers of the day heartily supported the sheikh, 
and hailed him as a champion of freedom of thought. 

^ The Times, 6th August 192d. 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 249 

The leaders of orthodoxy persuaded the Grand Mufti (the 
head of Islam in Egypt) to issue a decree which, it was 
hoped, would check some of the innovations. A movement 
to imitate Turkey in the -wearing of hats instead of the fez 
was forbidden on the ground that “ the wearing of European 
hats is against the Moslem religion, which forbids the 
faithful to imitate the infidel. The intermarriages which 
take place are not authorized or justified by any text 
of the Koran, which on the other hand authorizes the 
marriage of a Moslem with a female Christian or Jewess 
because it regards men as superior legally and socially 
to women, who owe them obedience and whose children 
must follow the husband’s faith.” ^ The decree ends with 
an earnest appeal to all Moslems to resist new ideas which 
“ tend to injure the Prophet’s law.” 

Moslems are being called back to the old paths, and where 
a government is purely Moslem there is no more liberty of 
thought now than there was a thousand years ago. These 
two contradictory forces have always existed within the 
House of Islam, and Islam has progressed or declined as one 
or other gained the ascendancy. To-day the reactionaries 
are faced with new factors unknown in the old days. The 
press can never be completely muzzled, thought penetrates 
silently and unseen into the most safely guarded regions, 
and consequently the days of conservative fanaticism are 
numbered. 

Holy wars are becoming a thing of the past, the swarming 
periods of the Arab races seem to be over, the practice of 
polygamy is disappearing under new economic conditions, 
slavery is admitted by many Moslems to be wrong, and 
compulsory conversion and the application of the law of 
apostasy are becoming increasingly unpopular in many 
areas. Moslems are therefore seeking a new orientation, 
and many are adapting their faith to the changed conditions 
and even declaring that the new type of Islam is the true 
type, and the new interpretation of Koranic teaching is 
1 The Timed, 25th March 1926. 



250 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

the orthodox-view. But sooner or later they always come 
up against the impregnable rock of an infallible, mecha- 
nically inspired and inerrant Koran. So the struggle 
goes on. 

The present renaissance may mean great changes in 
Islam itself, but it is more than probable that the two types 
will exist for a long time side by side. Supporters of the 
caliphate movement are already speaking of a democratic 
caliph who would act as guided by a league of Moslem 
nations, and pan-Islamism is copying to-day the methods 
of Geneva rather than those of Abdul Hamid. The fact 
is that Islam, proudly conscious of its achievements and 
self-sufficient, has never hitherto taken seriously into 
account the racial differences of Moslem lands. Through 
the new nationality movements race consciousness has 
come to the top, and it is quite distinct from the Islamic 
consciousness that took no account of race and exalted 
only the faith as suitable in its one form for all. 

The problem becomes intriguing when we remember that 
western thought has penetrated into every Moslem land, 
and in the most reactionary places there are signs of stirring 
and unrest. Islam as a whole and everywhere is convinced 
that all is not well with the faith. The railway has opened 
the minds of the most fanatical to the power of the West in 
invention and- science. Everywhere most strenuous efforts 
are being put forward to recreate an Islamic class conscious- 
ness, and the glory of Islam is being painted in vivid colours 
in the hope of checking the process of disintegration that 
has set in. The question is, has Islam the vitality still 
to stand the shock of western impacts and retain its old 
faith, undermined as it is by modem thought ? The 
revival in Islam at present is of a conservative type and is 
largely a reaction from the modem movements ; but the 
leviv^ of thought and life in some Moslem countries is not 
this at all. It is the revival of a national consciousness 
which is not necessarily Islamic. In our study of the 
Moslem world we must distinguish clearly between these 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 251 

two revivals : the one is to save Islam, and the other is to 
regenerate a country debilitated by Islamic law. 

It is not surprising in the post-war days of unrest that 
Bolshevism should have made determined efforts to capture 
Islam. Propaganda was carried on in most, if not all, 
Moslem lands. Groups of men were foimd in most large 
centres advocating soviet rule, and Islam was assailed by 
a non-religious force that claimed to have in it a greater 
brotherhood than Islam itself. Bolshevism, however, 
underestimated the strength of religious convictions even 
among the most indifferent. Moslems from childhood 
have been brought up in the belief in one supreme God, 
and although political disturbances occurred in places and 
were probably due to Bolshevic influence, yet Moslem 
people of many lands were unmoved by soviet appeals, and 
to-day it is fairly clear that Russia has failed in the Moslem 
world. Islam has proved a bulwark against which Russia 
has battered almost in vain. 

In this conflict the full torrent sweeps most strongly 
where the youth of the Moslem world congregate. The 
waves of new ideas break upon the youth of Islam with 
dramatic effect. A body of young students in Egypt who 
were studying Islamic law demanded that they should be 
allowed to wear European dress. This was forbidden and 
they were refused admittance to the college unless dressed 
in the usual Arab robes. Not to be outdone they presented 
themselves next day correctly dressed in eastern costumes, 
but on entering the class-room they threw off their robes 
and took their places attired in full European dress. 

These young men were orthodox students of Islam and 
not the product of a western school. Nationalism acts 
like a ferment in the minds of these youths. In the 
nationalist demonstrations in Egypt, it was the school- 
boys who headed processions, called upon the prime 
minister and members of the Egyptian cabinet, presented 
petitions to the leaders, and shouted most loudly for com- 
plete independence. Schoolboy strikes were a conunon 



252 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


occuirence ; the movement was very largely a youth 
cfunpaign for the freedom of their country. To prove to 
the world that they were not working on old Islamic lines 
young Moslems addressed political meetings in churches, 
and young Copts spoke in mosques. A common flag was 
used to demonstrate their national solidarity, on which the 
Cross and the Crescent both appeared. 

President Wilson'gave form to the hazy ideas of independ- 
ence, and in each country the one cry was national unity. 
In Egypt it was “ Egypt for the Egyptians,” in Turkey, 
“ Tittkey for the Turks,” and in India, “ India for the 
Indians.” In such ideals of national unity cherished by 
the youth of Islam there is common ground on which 
Moslems of all types can unite. While a young Egyptian 
will condemn Mustapha Kemal for his anti-caliphate policy 
he will be the first to shout (and as loudly as any Turk) 
for his independence. The Arab will launch bitter attacks 
upon Moslems of other lands as corrupt and idolatrous 
and will in his pwitan zeal anathematize Persia, Egypt 
and Turkey alike; yet he is the first to demand self- 
government for the Arab race throughout the Near East. 
And at last in Arabia after centuries of simple tribal law 
an Arab national consciousness is developing which is 
giving a new unity to the Arab world. 

A traveller to-day who visited North Africa, Morocco, 
Tripoli or Egypt, Palestine or Mesopotamia, India or China, 
would find wherever he went the younger generation all 
speaking the same language of national unity, education, 
progress, reform. Such an enthusiasm is infectious, and 
the fellah tills his land with new dreams of a citizen’s rights, 
the sheikh studies his Koran in the light of modem move- 
ments, and the schoolboy studies his lessons fired with 
the ambition of a new national consciousness. Religion 
is being separated from politics for the first time in the 
history of Islam. Mohammed’s idea of a Holy Moslem 
Empire on theocratic lines is disappearing, and religion is 
frequently spoken of now as a matter for the individual 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 258 

conscience only, and not a subject for state legislation and 
control. 

Moslem students of these signs of the times often come 
to Mddely different conclusions. Thus in a Colombo Moslem 
paper we read : 

The Islamic world seems to be on the threshold of a great 
renaissance. Under the impact of western civilization the 
East is slowly awakening to a consciousness of its own soul. 

while from Woking, England, we are told ; 

There has been many a dark hour in the history of Islam 
but never any so dark as at present. We, the present-day 
Moslems, have indeed fallen on evil days. Our past glory 
has forsaken us. Our might, our honour have deserted us. 

To those who sea in the past the golden age, present-day 
tendencies are disquieting, but to hot impetuous youth the 
golden age lies in the future and is not necessarily modelled 
on any past glory. 

Much has been said and written of the position of women 
in Moslem lands. While it is true that Mohammedan law 
differs in different countries, and while it would be obviously 
unfair to blame the Prophet for all the law which his 
followers have developed, it is none the less true that we 
can only judge Islam by its fruits. The renaissance in the 
Islamic world to-day is by no means simply political. It is 
a social and religious movement that is affecting the whole 
fabric of Islam. Moslem womanhood is awakening at last 
and is in revolt against many Moslem customs and practices. 
Here is a summary of the canons of Kabyle law in North 
Africa : 

A K!abyle woman has no right to inherit. 

She has no right to own property, save the clothes on 

her back. 

She has no right of choice. Marriage may be forced 



254 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

upon her even with the use of violence by the male who 
has authority over her. 

She has no right to repudiate her husband and cannot 
under any circumstances or for any reason ask for 
divorce in the court of justice. 

The husband may repudiate his wife whenever he 
pleases. 

No complaint on the part of the wife is allowed. 

If a married man dies, his wife is considered part of his 
inheritance and she is handed on with it.^ 

No social renaissance was possible as long as the status 
of women remained as it was, as long as divorce was merely 
a question of the whim of a husband, while polygamy 
was the legal and recognized practice, and while women 
were almost entirely illiterate and subject for life to the 
guardianship of man. 

In the Near East the first stirrings came through the 
demand for women’s education. Turkey, as we have seen, 
made this a part of the programme of the new republic, and 
when education was made compulsory by law, a clause was 
inserted which included girls as well as boys, Turkish 
women are demanding a liberal and thoroughly up-to-date 
education. To a teachers’ association which met in Angora 
in 1924 Constantinople alone sent a thousand delegates, 
a fact which tells its own story of the growth of education. 
Co-education has been adopted in the colleges, and women 
students now graduate in science, literature and law. The 
medical school has a good proportion of women students. 

The growth of education among girls has introduced into 
Islam a new spirit of social service, and with emancipation 
on the part of some there has come a desire, to help the poor 
and illiterate. In May 1914 the princesses of Egypt headed 
a movement for social improvement of the poor, and an 

^ A summary of chap, iv., toI. ii. of Kabylia, by General Harrotean and 
Monsieur Letoumeux, councillor in the Court of Appeal of Algeria. Quoted 
in ThamiUa, by Ferdinand Duchene, from the English translation by 1. Hay 
and E. H. Newton, pp. 9, 10. 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 256 


^sociation was formed called “ The Association of Egyptian 
Women for Social and Intellectual Improvement.” After 
the Great War other societies were formed, such as “ The 
New Women,” “ The Yoimg Women’s Club,” and “ The 
Feminist Movement.” Magazines were published in con- 
nection with these societies to advocate through the press 
the rights of women. Every member of the clubs took an 
oath to dedicate herself to the cause of virtue, patriotism 
and service. Even in conservative Baghdad the influence 
of these feminist movements is being felt ; a women’s club 
has been started there, and a troop of Girl Guides formed. 
A Baghdad daily paper denounces this kind of thing as out 
of harmony “ with traditions of good breeding of our 
women.” So the battle is waged backward and forward ; 
the traditionalists are shocked at the break away from age- 
long customs, but every month seems to mark new progress 
in women’s affairs. The veil, once the rule for all Moslem 
women, is now rapidly disappearing, and in Constantinople 
seven-eighths of the women have entirely discarded it. 

While the great mass of women are untouched by these 
movements at present, it is of interest to note what is the 
programme of the reforming women. The Egyptian 
Feminist Union for Woman Suffrage drew up nine points 
as the aims of the union, and later on they presented 
them to the prime minister of Egypt for inclusion in the 
new constitution. They include the following far-reaching 
ideals : 

Social equality with men. 

Equal educational facilities in the higher schools with 
boys. 

Reforms in marriage customs and the laws regarding 
marriage. 

The raising of the age at which marriage can be per- 
formed. 

Propaganda on public hygiene against immorality, 
evil customs, superstitions. 



256 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The Egyptian parliament has already had under con- 
sideration the question of equality of the sexes, educa- 
tion, marriage reforms, hygiene and sanitation, and the 
problem of immorality. 

Some lands have scarcely been touched by these changes, 
but the spirit of reform is penetrating to the utmost frontiers 
of Islam, and where legislation is introduced the effect is 
felt by the whole community, and not only by those who 
are actively working for reform. 

We may over-emphasize the disintegration of Islam if we 
study only the influence of the West upon Moslem life. We 
may exaggerate Arab Moslem strength if we judge twentieth- 
century conditions by events of the seventh century, but we 
cannot over-estimate the importance of the Moslem world 
finding common ground in a new patriotism which is setting 
out to withstand and overthrow western domination. The 
Moslem world is learning western ways not because it loves 
the West, but only because it sees in westemism the one 
way of coimteracting the domination of Europe over Moslem 
lands. Thus with nationalism among youth there is grow- 
ing stronger and stronger a deep distrust of the West and 
a determination to live their own lives, not only socially 
freed from the traditions of the past, but also unfettered by 
all western control. 

Mr Felix Valyi echoes the voice of young nationalists 
in their attitude to the West when he says : 

With the object of ensuring the greater comfort of the 
white race two-thirds of humanity have been reduced to 
economic slavery.^ 

The Moslem world is demanding vociferously what it terms 
“the legitimate rights of man, the laws of nations on a basis 
of equality of treatment.” * 

This race antagonism is not one of many problems, it is 
rapidly becoming in the Moslem world the problem. We 
have noticed the cleavage between Turkey and the rest of 
> Felix Valyi, KevoMion in ItUm, p. 4. ' Ibid., p. 4, 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 257 

Islam on account of Turkey’s anti-Moslem legislation ; but 
the startling fact remains that, however divided Turkey 
may be from Cairo or Aligarh in matters of religion, the 
whole Moslem world is ready to unite with Turkey in a 
common struggle against the aggressions of the West. 
Europe is accused of a policy of plunder, and not without 
some cause. Events since the war have convinced Islam 
that Europe does not play the game. The Arab kingdom 
from Damascus to the Hedjaz has not materialized. The 
Druses, goaded by the misrule of French officers, have 
revolted ; and a situation that at one time was capable of 
solution has embittered still further the relations between 
Islam and Europe. Abd-el-Krim’s war in Morocco was 
significant in that he succeeded in holding at bay two 
European powers for so long a period. 

The Balfour Declaration in Palestine and the division of 
Syria and Palestine between France and England gives the 
Aiab the impression that these two countries are exploiting 
their land for European ends. For these and other causes 
the Moslem world has decided that Europe is inimical to 
its best interests. The youth of Islam to-day is thinking 
in terms of politics more than religion. He is often far 
more interested in his nation’s welfare than in the spread 
of Islam. The solidarity of Islam is not a question of 
caliphate, or the sheriah (religious law), but almost entirely 
a matter of political unity in the face of the West. 

Europe has created these movements by its educational 
systems and example. Young Moslems have learned from 
Europe the lessons of democracy, self-determination, in- 
dependence and liberty. The break-up of Moslem isolation 
and the disintegration of the old Moslem life is Europe’s 
responsibility, and the solution of the problem created in 
the past fifty years does not lie in any policy of repression, 
but in a frank acknowledgment by both Islam and Europe 
of the interdependence of the one and the, other. 

Mohammed is reputed to have said, ‘‘Whoever sees, 
sees to his own profit ; whoever is blind is so at his own 

R 



258 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


expense,” ^ and this aptly sums up the situation, Moslems 
for centuries have been blind to the events of the outside 
world, the progress of civilization and the developments of 
science ; but to-day their eyes are open and, with all the 
zeal of the newly converted, they are knocking at the doors 
of Europe and are demanding a place in the councils of 
the nations. 

In the turmoil of change and revolution it is clear that 
the future of the Moslem world depends upon Europe’s 
attitude to it. If the present feeling of hostility develops 
a clash some day is inevitable. New moral and spiritual 
forces must be brought into operation that will draw 
together the sundered races and unite those at present 
divided into opposite camps. The nationality movements 
in Islam have arisen because young Moslems have drawn 
practical conclusions from the education they have received 
in Europe ; however Islam may view Turkey’s present 
policy, there is no doubt that Turkey has been the greatest 
political impulse to fundamental reforms and changes since 
the days of Mohammed and the best example of nationality 
to Islam, faced with a powerful group of nations controlling 
these lands. 

Reforms will go on, for Islam has ceased to stagnate ; 
Islam may be recast, but as long as the present antagonism 
continues Islam will continue with a growing political 
solidarity in opposition to Europe. The present revolu- 
tionary process will continue — what is Europe doing to 
meet the situation ? 

From what has been said it is clear that the impact of 
the West on Islam has started a process of secularization. 
Dogma gives place to national slogans, Mecca is passed 
by in favour of a visit to Europe, traditions are lost in the 
rapid strides of a new outlook, laws of the Koran are wiped 
out by modern legislation, and the Moslem world, under 
the cloak of an old faith, is marching towards its destiny. 
Will it be the break-up of Islam as a system or the con- 
' Quoted in Revolution in lelam, by Felix Valyi, p. 17. 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 269 


solidation of Mohammedanism on new and untried lines ? 
The reader must decide for himself. On judging, let us 
remember that there is a universalism in Islam that is not 
necessarily bound up in conservative dogma. In the 
Moslem world, “neither birth nor colour has prevented 
men from reaching the very highest positions ” ; and Islam 
has offered to all races which have accepted the faith 
equal chances and opportunities. It has shown atrifty,ir>g 
vitality even in its darkest days ; and to-day Islam edu- 
cated, awake and modern, holds in its hands the key to 
the Asiatic question. 

In summing up the many aspects of the Moslem situa- 
tion as seen in different races and countries we come back 
to the spiritual factor. We have already seen how mere 
formalism in religion has never met the needs of Moslems, 
and how they have sought along the lines of mysticism to 
find comfort for their devotional life. In the early days of 
Islam it was apparent that the cold dogma of the desert 
could not alone meet the need, and Sufiism sprang up 
to lead hungry souls along the paths of spiritual experi- 
ence. The mystic way was adopted by Dervishes in every 
land and the cult of Ali flourished at a time when material- 
ism and secularization were strongest. The days of the 
Abbaside dynasty were days of liberal thought, agnostic- 
ism in religion and a breaking-away from orthodox tradi- 
tions, and yet in this period mysticism flourished and grew. 
The heart of man never has settled down to mere secular- 
ism ; the husks of an old faith may be retained for a time 
but sooner or later men seek something more satisfying. 
A leading professor of the Azhar University in Cairo was 
asked what gave him greatest hope for Islam and he 
replied, “ I see no hope ; materialism is overwhelming us.’* 
But the professor was judging the situation rather by his 
own standards of orthodoxy than by the psychology of 
man. Every age in Islam has shown a quest for God, and 
if history is any guide the present age will not rest either in 
a militant nationalism or in the materialism of the West. 



260 THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 

Omar Khayyam, the Persian poet of the twelfth century, 
wrote : 


We are but chessmen who to move are fain 
Just as the great chess player doth ordain ; 

He moves us on life’s chess-board to and fro. 

And then in Death’s box shuts us up again — 

a sentiment, cynical and hopeless, which made life a matter 
of irresistible decrees. On another occasion he advocates 
the doctrine of “ Eat, drink and be merry,” in these words : 

We make the wine jar’s lip our place of prayer. 

And drink in lessons of true manhood there. 

And pass our lives in tavern, if perchance 
The time misspent in mosques we may repair. 

And in the same age in the same country A1 Ghazali 
was teaching the mystic way to God, leading men to find 
strength in spontaneous prayer. “ At the conclusion of 
your formal prayers,” he says, “ offer your humble petitions 
and thanksgiving and expect an answer.” 

The period in Islamic history that bred sceptics and 
reared agnostics also produced the greatest saints of 
Mohammedanism. These spiritual influences have by no 
means gone. Mysticism still has a great hold on Tslmn, 
and while many are breaking away from the old moorings 
others are seeking for God in the quiet of contemplation, 
prayer and meditation. The Dervish movement is a 
power to be reckoned with in Islam because of its immense 
hold on the poorer classes, and it may well be that having 
shattered the old mould the Moslem world in its present 
fluid state will turn again to a new mould in which 
mysticism will play a large part. ' 

The elements wliich we have considered are an orthodox 
faith, maintained in Arabia from the seventh century down 
to the twentieth, a mysticism which exercises still a great 
influence on the spiritual life and thought of thejpeople, 
and a liberalism which began in the days of Baghdad, was 



RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 261 

crushed for a time, and is now in complete ascendancy 
over the minds of educated Moslems. All these elements 
will count in the future of Islam. Each one has made its 
contribution in the past and each one holds a recognized 
place in the Moslem world to-day. Islam is not a unity 
and never has been. Its solidarity, once based on a great 
empire, is being rebuilt on new lines of nationalism. Its 
faith, once entrenched behind the solid ramparts of Islamic 
law and government, is in the crucible to-day. 

“ Islam reformed is no longer Islam.” We see now that 
reforms are sweeping through Islam with gale force, that 
customs, rooted in the very teaching of Mohammed, are 
being thrown to the winds, that new legislation is discard- 
ing Koranic law for a civil code on western lines, and with 
it all we see Islam still not “ something else.” In the 
present turmoil it is difficult to disentangle the threads. 
While there are aspects of these changes common to most 
Moslem countries, yet each land is expressing itself in its 
own national and racial maimer. Disintegration in Tirrkey 
may be leading to a future of secularism where religion is 
practically agnostic, but even there this is very doubtful. 
The majority of Turks are simple, semi-illiterate people, 
who are still devoutly attached to Islam. Changes in 
other lands like Egypt may mean a new orientation of 
Islamic theology, new liberty of thought, but Egj^t to-day 
is at heart as much Moslem as before. So in each country 
— while many are unsettled, thinking in new terms and 
seeking for knowledge in or outside Islam, yet there is 
coming a fresh impulse to Islam itself : like a phoenix, it 
rises out of the fires of a modern furnace into fresh activity, 
new hopes, and a determination not only to hold its own 
and remain Islam, but also to spread the faith, newly 
interpreted, the world over. 

There are many parallels which might be drawn between 
the renaissance in Europe in the fifteenth century and the 
present aspects of Islamic revival. The awakening of 
learning in the Middle Ages led to the Reformation. 



262 EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Following hard in the wake of literature and art, culture 
and civilization, came a renewal of personal religion, a 
quickened conscience and new moral standards for men and 
nations. As we watch Islam to-day, athirst for knowledge, 
awakened to a new culture, demanding a wider learning, 
and reaching out to a truer civilization, we ask to what is 
it all leading ? Will history repeat itself, and will there 
come out of the present awakening new ethical standards, 
a new morality, and a new living faith ? 

The interest in some quarters in the message of 
Christianity leads some to the conclusion that Islam, 
having seen past failures and having sought reform along 
Islamic lines, will only find the path of real moral pro- 
gress in the Christian conception of civilization. This 
may be so, but for the present we see Islam actively 
engaged in strengthening its stakes and carrying on a 
widespread propaganda which aims at the overthrow of 
Christianity by an Islamic unitarianism in the West and 
a progressive Islam in the East. 



CHAPTER XIII 

ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 

Christianity and Islam have met at many points down 
the centuries since Mohammed first called upon the 
Christian world to accept his faith as a religion that 
superseded all others. But nowhere is the effect of 
Moslem invasion seen more tragically than in the old 
Cathedral of Santa Sophia in Constantinople. One hun- 
dred and eighty feet from the ground and surmounting 
the great dome of the basilica stands the Crescent, the 
symbol of Islamic faith and power. It has replaced the 
Cross which had stood there for many years as the sign of 
the Christian faith. After the fall of the city in 1458 the 
church was turned into a mosque and efforts were made 
to obliterate all traces of Christianity. The Byzantine 
architecture could not be altered nor could the history of 
the past be forgotten, but sentences from the Koran were 
inscribed in bold letters in the mosque, a Moslem pulpit 
was erected and a niche was placed marking the direction 
of Mecca, to enable the worshippers to pray facing towards 
Arabia. At the east end of the cathedral there had been 
a great figure in rich and shining mosaic of Christ, with 
hands outstretched in blessing. The Turks had sought to 
hide it by painting over the figure a Moslem arabesque. 
For a thousand years the figure has been there, but it has 
been hidden since the fifteenth century. In course of 
time the arabesque has worn off, and to-day the picture 
of our Saviour can again be seen. It is half concealed, yet 
is still the same arresting figure of the Son of God who 
with outstretched arms is seeking to bless the world. 

We transfer the scene from Constantinople to Damascus, 



264 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

where another church has become a mosque. Here 
Theodosius I (a.d. 879-395) erected the Church of S. John 
the Baptist. When the Moslems captured the city and 
turned half of the church into a mosque there was a Greek 
inscription, probably dating from the time of Theodosius, 
cut deep into the stonework of the outside of the eastern 
wall. It reads, “ Thy Kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting 
Kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all 
generations.” The Arab conqueror left this prophecy in 
stone, a silent witness in days of disaster to an imperish- 
able faith. At the beginning of the eighth century the 
interior of the mosque was pulled out and a magnificent 
building erected by the Omayyads. Twelve hundred 
Greek artists are said to have been employed in its decora- 
tion, and the mosque became famous as the most glorious 
edifice in the Islamic world. But in all these changes 
the outer walls were untouched, and the old Christian in- 
scription remained unaltered. In the eleventh century the 
mosque was burnt down, and when it was rebuilt the 
inscription was found to have been uninjured and still 
remained to testify to the everlasting kingdom of Christ. 
In the fourteenth century Timur pillaged and damaged 
the mosque, but the writing on the wall was untouched. 
Near to the inscription the Moslems have erected a 
minaret which is called “ The Minaret of Jesus,” and it 
may be a coincidence that a Mohammedan tradition says 
that it is here that Jesus will take His place at the Last 
Judgment. 

These two mosques, the one with the two words in bold 
Arabic characters, God — ^Mohammed, facing the worship- 
pers as they bow in the Moslem prayers, and the other 
with the message of Christ’s kingdom, are symbols of two 
faiths, two ideals and two prophets. They represent 
Islam, glorying in the greatness of God and Mohamme- 
danism as the final revelation to men, and Christianity, 
which sees in the message of Christ a kingdom of undying 
splendour and fadeless glory which shall never pass away. 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 265 

Ever since the days of Mohammed there has been 
ceaseless rivalry between the two religions. Both claim 
to be universal, both are missionary in aim and purpose, 
both have a book believed by each to be the inspired word 
of God ; both owe their foimdation to the teaching of men 
who sought to interpret God to the world, both have their 
roots deep in the Jewish faith, both stand for an exclusive- 
ness which denies to other religions equality of status, 
both aim at an inclusive policy which would make their 
faith the one remedy for the whole world. For thirteen 
hundred years the clash of these two creeds has constantly 
reverberated. Holy wars have been waged by Islam, and 
Christian churches have been blotted out. Crusades have 
gone to the Near East, and by barbarism and cruelty 
have stained the banner of the Cross. Both religions 
emerge to-day from mediaevalism and feudalism into the 
twentieth century of science and civilization, and both are 
bidding for the heart of mankind. Islam by her con- 
quests and expansion once challenged the Christian Church. 
Islam is to-day challenged herself by that same Church, 
which has spread over the globe in a world-wide mis- 
sionary campaign. 

We have seen how Islam in its early expansion owed 
much to the help and support given to it by Christian 
communities. Arab Christians on the borders of Arabia 
found racial sentiment stronger than loyalty to Byzantine 
rule, and they did not see in Islam a rival faith but an 
ally against oppressive rulers. The Moslems never aimed 
at a compromise with other faiths. Their message of the 
unity of God made them men of one pxirpose, and so while 
they gladly accepted any help which the Christians offered 
them they made every effort to win the Christians over to 
Islam. For long periods the members of the two faiths 
lived peaceably together. Those who refused to become 
Moslems had to pay a tax, otherwise they were not 
seriously molested. Conversion was not as a rule forced 
upon Christians at the point of the sword, but there were 



266 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


at times fanatical outbursts when it spelt death to refuse 
the demands of Islam. In the days of the early caliphs 
there is no doubt that the Christians preferred Arab rule 
to that of Constantinople. Many too, disgusted with 
the formalism and corruption within the Church, went 
over to Islam. When the Moslem armies reached the 
Jordan valley the Christians wrote to them, sajdng : 

“ O Muslims, we prefer you to the Byzantines, though 
they are of oim faith, because you keep better faith with 
us and are more merciful to us and refrain from doing us 
injustice.” 

This attitude is typical of many areas invaded by 
Mohammedans. Support was certainly given to Islam by 
Copts in Egypt, by Nestorians in Mesopotamia, by the 
Christians in Eastern Europe and by the slave elasses in 
Spain. So deep was the hatred of the Byzantine rule 
that town after town opened its gates to the Arabs and 
made terms with them ; in fact Heraclius would probably 
never have been driven out of S)uria, certainly not so 
easily, had not the people of the country revolted and 
gone over to the Arab cause. 

When Abu Bakr and Omar had passed away and the 
Moslems began to consolidate their position under more 
settled conditions, the situation changed. The methods 
of tribal rule and the freedom of Arab life were not intro- 
duced into conquered lands. The people were made to 
feel that they were a subject race, that for men to be 
anything but Moslems was to be placed in an inferior 
position from which there was no escape except by adopt- 
ing Islam. Wherever the Arab armies penetrated there 
always followed the religious leaders and teachers of the 
faith. To them the subject races owed much of the 
fanaticism shown against them. They were the inter- 
preters of the Koran and they looked with scorn upon 
all who did not obey Gk>d and His prophet. 

New laws were at times passed which were all designed 
to weaken Christianity. No new monasteries or churches 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 26T 

were allowed to be built; those that fell into disrepair 
were not to be restored. Christian houses had to be 
open to Moslem travellers at all times and food and 
lodging had to be provided for any Moslem for three 
nights, Christians were ordered to teach the Koran to 
their children and to refrain from teaching their faith to 
Moslems, They were forbidden to imitate Moslem dress 
or expression of speech. No cross was allowed on a 
church, and no Christian processions were permitted 
through the streets. 

It is impossible to form any idea of the rate at which 
Islam took over Christians to their faith, but in the early 
centuries very large numbers must have become Moslems. 
It must not be imagined, however, that Christians did 
nothing to stem the tide. The writings of John of 
Damascus bear eloquent testimony to an effort then made 
to preserve the Christian faith. John was a great theo- 
logian of the Greek Church and at the Umayyad court he 
held high office. It speaks eloquently for the tolerance 
of the Umayyad caliphs that a Christian could not only 
be a favourite at coiui; but at the same time could write 
polemical treatises against Islam and in defence of Chris- 
tianity. At the same court the poet laureate was one 
Akhtal, who was also a Christian. Greek and Christian 
thought was exercising a profound influence upon the 
Moslem mind. Arab Islam had been launched into the 
world without a philosophy and acute minds among the 
Mohammedans sought to work out a philosophy which, 
while retaining the outward form of Islam, would conform 
to the problems of life. In this study the clash with 
Christianity was intellectual and friendly. 

The noble character of Saladin in the Crusades and the 
misrule of the Crusaders led many Christians of the Near 
East to prefer Moslem rule to that of their co-religionists, 
and after the victories of Saladin Islam made great pro- 
gress and the Church was further weakened. The re- 
markable thing is that when Christianity from the West, 



208 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


through the Crusades, entered Palestine, Islam met this 
new element and without any sort of compulsion won 
over to Islam actual Crusaders themselves. During the 
first Crusade a body of Germans and Lombards abandoned 
their faith and embraced Islam. Nor was this the only 
incident, for in the second Crusade more than three thou- 
sand Crusaders became Moslems. The story is told by 
the private chaplain to Louis VII, who followed his 
master in the Crusade. The point he stresses is the 
cruelty of the Greeks to their fellow-Christians of the 
Latin faith. This, combined with the kind and generous 
treatment of the Saracens, won over this large body of 
men to Islam.^ 

In all these centuries of Moslem rule the Church that 
probably gave fewer converts to Islam than any other 
was the Armenian, and it is the Church that has in con- 
sequence suffered most. The Armenian nation fought 
bravely for its independence, and when it was overcome 
by overwhelming odds clung with wonderful fidelity to 
the Christian faith. Some certainly have become Moslems, 
but it has been under the heavy pressure of terrible per- 
secutions, and the Armenians as a people have remained 
faithful up to the present day. 

In Egypt Islam spread rapidly owing to the appalling 
lack of teaching by the Church. The spiritual and moral 
training of the people was neglected, the priesthood was 
ignorant and corrupt and religion became a formal affair 
of rites and ceremonies. In some parts of the Delta 
of Egypt the Christians were so completely neglected 
and denied the spiritual ministrations of the Church 
that practically the whole population became Moslem. 
As Arabic gradually supplanted Coptic and became the 
spoken language of the people, the Church steadily re- 
fused to face the facts of a new situation. Generations 
grew up with no knowledge of Coptic and still the services 
were conducted in a language which was unintelligible to 
^ See The Preaching of Ulam, by T. W. Arnold, p. 88. 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


269 


most of the worshippers. Persecution no doubt played a 
considerable part at times in the conversion of Egypt ; 
but force was never the primary cause of the loss of 
millions of Christians to" Islam in that country. Since the 
British occupation in 1882 there has been complete 
freedom of conscience, and yet, every year since, some 
hundreds of Copts have become Moslems. The cause of 
Islamic progress in Egypt must be sought not so much in 
Moslem fanaticism as in the weakened and debilitated 
spiritual state of the Church. After all the differing 
causes have been considered, the fact remains that the 
Christian Church in Egypt had not sufficient religious and 
spiritual vitality to enable it to withstand the shock of 
Islam. To-day there is a population in Egypt of about 
twelve million, of whom eleven million are Moslems and 
one million Christians. The drift towards Islam is still 
going on and is likely to continue, for a Church that 
refuses all reforms cannot hope to keep the whole-hearted 
allegiance of its people. 

Moslem penetration into Abyssinia was later in date 
than into most of the other Christian countries. Although 
only the Red Sea divided it from Arabia, it was not until 
about A.D. 1300 that an organized attempt was made to 
conquer the country. The method adopted was similar 
to that in West Africa : a Moslem visited Abyssinia, 
called upon the people to repent and become Moham- 
medans, and on their refusal he gathered an army and 
attacked the ruler of Amhara. Islam established itself 
along the coast, but never succeeded in a permanent con- 
quest of the country. In fact Moslem settlers in Abys- 
sinia became tributaries to the Christian king. In spite 
of the fact that Christianity was, in this case, the dominant 
religion it could not hold its own against Islamic propa- 
ganda, and numbers of Christians embraced Islam. The 
causes for this are to be found in the isolated condition of 
the Church. Cut off as it was from outside help and out 
of touch with the Church in other lands, it became dead 



2T0 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


and formal, its priests lazy and indolent and its people 
ignorant of the simplest truths of the Christian faith. 
This trek towards Islam has by no means ceased and 
in the last centmry it is estimated that upwards of two 
hundred thousand Christians in Abyssinia have become 
Moslems. 

We have already seen the effect of Islam upon the 
Church in North Africa and Spain, and we now turn to 
eastern Europe. Here the Moslems were as vigorous in 
their propaganda as the Christian Church was apathetic 
and indifferent. Many of the clergy were ignorant men 
of little or no education. Moral life was at a low ebb and 
a dry rot seemed to have eaten into the foundations of 
the Church. By the seventeenth century large numbers 
of Albanians had for one cause or another forsaken the 
Church for Islam, and in one diocese we read that only 
two thousand Christians were left. The spread of Islam 
can be imagined from the fact that during the century 
from 1600 to 1700 a Christian body numbering ninety 
per cent of the population had been reduced to less than 
ftSty pet cent. Christian women freely married Moham- 
medans and their sons were always brought up as Moslems. 
The unpopularity of the clergy was largely responsible 
for this decline. Education was almost non-existent and 
the people knew little or nothing of the Christian faith. 
The quarrel between the Latin and the Greek Churches 
drove many over to Islam. When Christians of the Greek 
Church in Servia were given the choice of either receiving 
Hungarian help at the price of accepting Roman Catholic- 
ism or being left to Turkish rule, they accepted a Moslem 
government rather than betray their own Church. No 
united effort was made to stem the tide of Islamic advance, 
and Latin Europe demanded as the reward for help the 
establishment of the Roman Catholic faith. 

In addition to this the Moslems held out tempting 
inducements to the people to accept Islam. All who 
became Moslems were allowed to retain their lands and 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


271 


possessions. It is little wonder therefore that in the 
Balkan states Islam made considerable progress. When 
we remember that it was not until the nineteenth century 
that these Balkan people regained a measure of even 
semi-independence it is remarkable that so many of them 
remained true to the Christian faith. 

Here we may well pause. The impact upon the Chris- 
tian Chimch should make us not only pause but think 
furiously. What were the vital forces in Islam that made 
it possible for Moslems to spread their faith in many of 
the strongholds of Christianity ? The strength of Islam 
lies not in its social and political systems, both of which 
have frequently broken down and have been altered and 
changed in different ages to suit the needs of the time, but 
it lies in the fact that Islam is a religion which has enabled 
men, by a simple scheme of theology, to live religious 
lives. No religion could maintain its hold upon millions 
of people, as Islam does, were it not able to meet some 
human needs. Islam in proclaiming the unity and great- 
ness of God was putting forth an idea that grew in the 
minds of men into a profound conviction. The sim- 
plicity of it appealed to them as an immense relief j&:om 
the complexity of mediaeval Christian teaching with its 
priestly offices, saint worship and its labyrinth of theo- 
logical difficulties ; it won its way in polytheistic lands, 
such as Africa, by its very insistence that there is but one 
God. Moslems have never tired of reiterating that God 
is one, God is great and He is a God of judgment. These 
truths are not peculiar to Islam, for a Christian can sub- 
scribe to them all, but they represent the essence of all 
Moslem teaching about God. Much in Moslem theology is 
purely theoretical and its interest is confined to students 
of Koranic law, but the thought of God as the one governor 
of the universe, as a personal force in the lives of men, 
and as one who has direct individual dealings with them, 
is a fact of life, not a theory. It provides an explanation 
for many of the problems of life, and those who grasp its 



272 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


significance it enables to face loss, suffering, trouble and 
adversity with complete resignation. The omnipotence 
of God, magnified in Islam, seems at first sight to make 
the Deity remote and inaccessible, yet it is this very 
omnipotence which brings God near, “ for man is every 
way surrounded by^ nay, himself exists through the 
immediate working of Allah’s will and power, and though 
their conviction of the absolute difference between Allah’s 
nature and attributes and their own logically leads to 
complete agnosticism, they find ways through which there 
is given them a knowledge of Allah and the unseen world 
— ^the way of revelation through His prophet and His 
book.” 1 

Travellers in Moslem lands have picked up such words 
as kismet and have become familiar with the daily Moslem 
expressions, ‘‘ If God will ” and “ Praise be to God.” It 
is commonly said that these are but a habit and in no 
sense an act of conscious faith. It is doubtful how long 
such a habit would continue if all conviction were lost. 
A closer study of Moslem life shows that such phrases are 
not used as an Englishmen might say “ By Jove.” In 
the latter case it is habit, and the phrase, beyond being an 
expression of surprise, has no meaning for the person 
using it. In the former case a Moslem will say “ If God 
wills,” glib as it may often sound, from the profound 
conviction that God is and that His will rules over all. 

In estimating the strength of this doctrine of God it 
should not be forgotten that it was this same message 
that lay behind the whole Israelitish conception of God. 
Mohammed had seized hold of a great truth, one acknow- 
ledged by the whole Jewish and Christian world. By 
making it not one of many doctrines but the basic fact 
in all true religion the Prophet gave men a reality in reli- 
gion for which they were waiting. God was real, however 
deistic the Koran might make Him to appear, and men, 
tired of the insincere formalism of much in the religious 
1 W. H. T. Gairdner in Vitai Forcta of Christianity and Islam, p. 18. 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


278 


life around them, turned to Islam because it brought God 
into their lives. 

Let us try to imagine the life of a town in Syria with 
a corrupt government and the hypocrisy of a declining 
Byzantine empire in which religion was part of the recog- 
nized ritual of an immoral court. Then let us watch the 
sudden appearance of a bold, rugged people coming up 
out of the desert, preaching that the God who is one is 
just and is coming to judge mankind. It was like the 
rediscovery of God to a tired world. The sincerity and 
conviction of the Arab swept away the hollow shams that 
so many had seen in religion and they eagerly followed 
the Prophet because they were in touch with reality. As 
time went on men in non-Arab lands began to give their 
own content to the creed “ There is no God but God,’’ 
and men found they could not live simply upon a great 
conviction and a burning enthusiasm. Arabia had not 
so much interpreted God to the world as declared the 
great fact that God is. The Arabs, having shouted 
the existence of God over half the world, retired once 
more to their desert and other men took up their cry 
and began its interpretation for their own races and 
people. 

In the light of later history Arabia never seems to have 
been able to do more than declaim, God is Great. It was 
the one message that the Arabs had to give, and it fell to 
other races to interpret and explain, to expand the con- 
tent of this desert creed and adapt it to meet their needs. 
But the strength of the whole Moslem position lies in the 
fact that the Arabs proclaimed a truth which lies at the 
basis of religious thought in most lands to-day. The 
word ‘‘ great ” as applied to God has come to mean, not 
only what Mohammed had in mind, but all that every 
man in his own religious experience has been able to 
conceive it to mean. There were endless possibilities in a 
creed which simply said, There is no God but God ; and 
men of non-Arab types have seen in it, with a growing 
s 



274 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


spiritual insight, depths of beauty and glory beyond any- 
thing that an Arab brain could imagine. 

The reality of God demanded spiritual experience, based 
upon prayer. Mohammed had given set forms of worship 
and laid down rules and regulations for prayers to be said 
five times a day. The greatness of the truth preached de- 
manded something more than recognition as a duty. If 
God is real the whole soul must go out to Him, and while 
the mystics observed as a duty the prescribed hours of 
prayer they found their inspiration in the contemplation 
of God and His attributes through types of worship not 
found anywhere in the Koran. The Sufis, by the intro- 
duction of this new element into Islam, gave a spiritual 
significance to what must ere long have become merely 
formal and stereotyped. In fact they contributed what 
has ever since been one of the great vital forces in Islam, 
the quest of God along the lines of spiritual experience. 
In trying to estimate the sources of power in Islam it 
should be noted that the truth of God’s unity coupled 
with the fact of His omnipotence, coming as it did as a 
great inspiration, aroused in the minds of Moslems not 
only enthusiasm and fervour but a sense of devotion. It 
purified the religious consciousness and led the more 
sincere into a life where religion became a matter of 
emotion and of the heart as well as of the head. In other 
words the intellectual grasp of the doctrine of the unity 
of God never sufficed to meet men’s needs, nor have the 
best types of Moslems ever been content with the formal 
repetition of a creed. The mystics taught Mohammedans 
to search for an experience of God that was personal, 
vital and real. 

It is in the study of this aspect of Islam that we begin 
to understand why Islam not only made converts but 
held them, why in days when there was no compulsion 
or pressure Moslems spread their faith and won people 
from many races, of differing religions and of widely 
varying outlooks. They sought to make the unity of 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


276 


God a reality in the experience of men. They met Chris- 
tianity at a time when men were dominated by a priest- 
craft which appeared to -many to deny the right of direct 
access to God. If a man were burdened with sins he had 
to repair to a priest for absolution. Islam came preaching 
that God was accessible to all. He required no saintly 
intercessors, and the humblest might approach Him and 
seek His mercy. 

Mention has already been made of the zikr or the ser- 
vice in Islam for the remembrance of God. The import- 
ance of such an act of worship to those who had been 
newly converted cannot be over-estimated. If any of my 
readers doubts this let him sit down quietly and repeat to 
himself the name of God, let him fill his mind with thoughts 
of God’s attributes, His love. His mercy. His power. His 
majesty until the whole mind is absorbed with the thought 
of God, and he will soon grasp the significance to Islam 
of Dervish prayers. These services with their dances and 
eccentricities have often been a somce of evil and the 
onlooker is wont to scoff at the whole Dervish system as 
absurd. The frenzy of its devotees and the hypnotic 
influence it exercises are reasons why it is not a recognized 
feature of orthodox Islam. The sheikh and religious 
leaders often openly laugh at it, but these men are the 
unemotional students of the Koran to whom the letter of 
the law is more important than life. The Dervish exer- 
cises find expression among people with a sense of deep 
religious need, and to them feeling and emotion play a 
bigger part in their spiritual life than an intellectually 
correct creed. 

In trying to sum up the reasons for the expansion of 
Islam I would place next in order the devotion and loyalty 
to the Prophet universally shown by Moslems of every 
race. In an earlier chapter we tried to disentangle the 
man Mohammed, as he is to be seen historically in the 
seventh centiuy, from the idealization of his personality. 
When Ayesha was asked about the Prophet she said : 



276 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


He was a man just such as yourselvra. He laughed often 
and smiled much. He would mend his clothes and cobble 
his. shoes. He used to help me in my household duties, 
but what he did oftenest was to sew. He never took 
revenge excepting where the honour of God was concerned. 
\^en angry with any person he would say, “ What hath 
taken such a man that he should soil his forehead in the 
mud?” 

This is the picture of a very human man who by his per- 
sonality won the affection of the Arabs. Armies advanced 
to battle under the inspiration of a man who had taught 
them a great truth about God, who had been prepared to 
suffer persecution for his faith, and who as one of them- 
selves understood their needs, aspirations and hopes. 
Things that seem to us to-day as glaring inconsistencies 
in the character of a religious leader did not appeal to the 
Arabs in the same way. The things Mohammed did that 
repel many now were so much a part of the normal life of 
an Arab that they enhanced rather than detracted from 
his reputation. 

In course of time, and as other races without an Arab 
background came to study the character of this man, a 
process began of idealizing him so as to secure to the 
Prophet personally the world-wide significance that had 
been given to his message. To illustrate what I mean let 
me compare Ayesha’s simple description of Mohammed 
with a modem writer’s estimate of the same man ; 


Space here debars me from describing the various sides 
of the character of the Holy Prophet. History fails to 
point out any other personality than him where we find 
the assemblage of all the virtues that constituted an 
evolved humanity. His simplicity, his humanity, his 
generosity, his frugality, his broadmindedness, his for- 
bearance, his earnestness of purpose, his steadfastness, 
his firmness in adversity, his meekness in power, his 
humility in greatness, his anxious care for animals, his 
passionate love for children, his bravery and courage, his 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 277 

magnanimity, his unbending sense of justice. Volumes 
are needed to do justice to tms Superman ^ 

Dr Crawford writes on -this subject : 

Writers vie with one another in the extravagant phrase- 
ology with which they set forth the personal charms and 
perfections of the prophet’s physical and moral being, the 
adoration of heavenly beings for his person and the marvel- 
lous response of all physical nature to his advent on earth 
are favourite themes. They have even advanced to a 
mystical philosophy of the Prophet’s cosmic significance, 
in which his pre-existence is practically assumed, and the 
supreme influence in heaven of his intercessory function is 
set forth with all the florid wealth of oriental imagery.* 

This process of apotheosis is due to a popular enthusi- 
asm which appears to have had its origin in the minds of 
educated converts from Christianity to Islam. Such men, 
impressed by the striking contrast between the character 
of Christ and Mohammed, have imported into the faith of 
Islam all the mystical doctrines of Christianity concerning 
the person of Christ. In other words Islam has been 
strengthened by an attempt to make the character of 
Mohammed approximate as nearly as possible to that of 
Jesus Christ. Around this idealized personality all the 
enthusiasm, fervour and devotion in Islam swings. Thus 
we have not only the burning zeal created through the 
great truth of God’s unity, but coupled with it the ex- 
perimental religious fervour of the mystic way and 
the idealized Prophet as example, guide, intercessor and 
friend. 

It naturally follows from what has been said that 
another source of strength in Mohammedanism is the 
Moslem’s pride in his religion. We have seen what this 
means in pagan African areas where the prayer mat 
ostentatiously displayed gives the Moslem the opportunity 

‘ The Ideal Prophet, p. 190. 

* Vital Forcea of Ohrietianity mi lekm, p. 137. 



278 


THE EXPANSION OP ISLAM 


of public worship which at the same time is an object- 
lesson to the onlookers. This is not done from any desire 
for display or “to be seen by men,” but from an entire 
absence of self-consciousness in prayer and a pride of 
faith which makes a man never ashamed to own and 
confess it even when he knows that those watching him 
are not believers. Enthusiasm is always infectious, and 
the Christian world met in Islam a body of people wildly 
enthusiastic for their religion. The ringing note of reality 
that must have met Christian populations weakened by 
schism, inert through ignorance and priestly rule, and 
often exploited by the wealthy few was a challenge to the 
Church. The struggle between the two faiths was one of 
vitality, and in pre-Reformation days Islam won practi- 
cally every time because it stood for personal religion, 
which was the heritage of all. 

To this must be added the fact that the absence of any 
priesthood in Islam, the entirely voluntary system upon 
which it worked, and the easily grasped creed all made the 
process of Islamization simple. Furthermore, while Islam 
presented God to the world as a tremendous reality it did 
not make any very severe demands upon the morals of 
the people. The weaknesses to which human nature is 
prone were condoned, and a man found that he had a 
wide scope for indulging himself before his conscience 
need trouble him very much. If he did overstep the 
bounds even of Islamic morals, God was merciful, and it 
was a simple matter to ask for forgiveness. Repentance 
was made easy, and Christians who became Moslems were 
freed from the burden of penances and payments which 
at one time weighed like a millstone round the necks of 
the people. The whole system of Islam, with its concep- 
tion of God and its ideal in Mohammed, made zeal for 
religion quite compatible with a moderately easy morality. 
The awfulness of sin and the holiness of God, as under- 
stood in the New Testament, were unknown quantities in 
the Moslem religion. 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 279 

It was the combination of these very different elements 
that together made the appeal of Islam so successful. To 
these causes may be added, as an important factor in the 
consohdation of the Moslem position, the class conscious- 
ness which formed a vital bond of union among believers. 
This unity was not political, for Moslem rulers fought 
against each other from an early date. But it sprang 
from a common faith in which all, however varied in type, 
gloried. Worship was the same for all, and in whatever 
part of the world a Moslem travelled he found the same 
prayers in use and the same outward practices of rehgion. 
This was accentuated by the co-operative character of 
much in religious ceremony. Brotherhood was not an 
organization with rules and regulations but was rather due 
to an underlying sense of unity in the faith that did tran- 
scend the differences of divided sects. The Shiahs and the 
Sunnis, the Wahhabi and the Ahmadi may attack one 
another bitterly, but they all display a common enthusiasm 
for Islam. 

The problem that faced Moslem leaders as their religion 
spread across Asia and Africa and into Europe was the 
teaching of the newly converted. Moslems have been 
among the most iUiterate people in the world, judged by 
European standards. Education, as we know it, has 
often been non-existent, but what Islam did was to con- 
centrate upon religious instruction. The methods of it 
may be open to severe criticism, but to realize what it has 
accomplished one has only to visit any Moslem village in 
the world. People were left entirely ignorant of science, 
mathematics, geography and kindred subjects, but they 
were practically all taught to say their prayers. Educa- 
tion was confined to one book — ^the Koran. History was 
limited to Islam and the Prophet, and the text-book for 
reading and the copies for writing were again the Koran. 
I have met many thousands of ilhterate Moslems but I 
never came across one who did not know the set prayers 
and who could not freely quote parts of the Koran. It was 



280 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


this system of concentrating on religion that made Islam 
a part of the life of the people. They could not divorce 
religion from life because life was permeated in every 
phase of it by Islam. What has gone on down the cen- 
turies ever since Mohammed’s day is to be seen in any 
village to-day in the Moslem parts of Africa. I see before 
me as I write a village with a population of three thousand ; 
not more than one per cent of the people can read and 
write. An Azhar sheikh who has memorized the Koran 
lives among the people. He is one of them. He owns a 
piece of land like the rest, goes to market, buys and sells, 
and in his manner of life is little distinguished from the 
villagers. He runs a small school where he teaches his 
faith. He leads the prayers in the mosques and his 
religious influence is unique. No social barriers separate 
him from his flock, no priestly functions give him prestige. 
He keeps alive the spirit of Islam, warns the wayward, 
helps the suffering and cheers on the anxious, and all is 
done in the most simple and unassuming manner. He is 
the centre of unity in village life, and Islam thrives as the 
humblest feels proud of the fact that he is a Moslem. This 
scheme of securing religious teaching for all lies at the root 
of Moslem solidarity and strength. Many other reasons 
no doubt there are, but this one alone has kept the Moslem 
world true to the principles of Islam and loyal to the 
Prophet. Had the Christian Church paid more attention 
to the training of its people, had it been content to do one 
thing and do it well, the history of the past thousand years 
would have been very different. Religious teaching has 
been a bulwark in Islam against which the waves of the 
outside world have beaten fruitlessly for generations. 

Having tried to look at some of the strong points in 
Islam and having seen it grow in influence, dominate 
countries and absorb other faiths, we natmrally ask why 
Islam has done so little for the lands it has occupied. 
While Moslems have maintained their faith undinuned 
down the centuries they have not progressed in other 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


281 


ways. Islam has so completely satisfied its followers that 
they have ever been content with things as they are. 
Growth in knowledge has not been a Moslem ideal, and 
while the faith has remained a permanent influence in 
the lives of men, the old order has remained too. The 
stagnation we have emphasized in so many ways in this 
book is as much a part of the system as are all the other 
factors mentioned. The mental attitude has been that, 
having Allah and His Prophet, what more does a man 
require ? Having the Koran, the sum total of all wisdom 
and knowledge, why bother about infidel learning ? 

What therefore in one direction has been an immense 
strength is in other ways a serious weakness. Had the 
West never influenced Moslem lands this inherent weak- 
ness would not have mattered seriously. But with all the 
changes we have noted there has come a new mentality, 
and men, while still professing to see in Islam all that their 
forefathers saw, are thinking in different terms. Islam, 
which once made such an irresistible appeal, is seen to-day 
at a disadvantage. The light of many cultures and non- 
Islamic thought is turned upon it, and blemishes that 
were unnoticed before begin to appear. The Moslem 
shows a discontent with the existing order and is searching 
for scnnething new. Arabs on the east coast of Africa 
frankly admit that Mohammedan law on slavery is incon- 
sistent with the principles of justice. The Behai move- 
ment in Persia was a revolt against much in Islamic law, 
and Turkey’s attitude to Islam speaks eloquently of its 
weakness as a system when it comes in contact with 
higher forms of civilization than that of Mohanuned. 
Moslems feel the difficulties involved in fatalism and the 
consequent lack of moral responsibility among those who 
see every act as decreed by God. The theory of Koranic 
inspiration and the belief in the book as the uncreated 
word of God again lead men who are now studying science 
into a difficult position. 

We have watched Islam grow, spread over the world, 



282 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

attack and overthrow Christianity, and we have traced 
out the new movements in the Moslem world to-day 
which are disturbing the orthodox and creating a 
situation different from anything previously seen in 
Mohammedanism. 

We now turn back for a moment to the Christian Church 
to see how things fared with it after its losses and disasters 
through the expansion of Islam. We have noted already 
that the present situation in the Moslem world has been 
brought about through the sudden impact of the West 
upon peoples hitherto isolated, imeducated and self- 
satisfied. The Christian Church was in a similar position 
when Islam made its attack upon it. The Middle Ages 
mark both the limits of Moslem expansion and the awaken- 
ing of the West. The Renaissance in Europe saw the 
beginnings of modern science and the application of true 
scientific methods to the investigation of nature. It was 
an age of geographical exploration, and through the 
awakened mind of Europe, far-reaching discoveries were 
made. The telescope, the mariner’s compass, and the 
use of gunpowder gave men a power previously unknown. 
In governments it was an age of concentration when 
Emope was re-grouped into nations. At the same time 
there sprang up the movements for the defence of the 
rights of the individual and the demand for liberty of 
conscience. In literature, the rediscovery of classical 
manuscripts led to a new study of Greek, and Europe 
awakened to the power and beauty of modem languages, 
which in turn created the national literatures of the West. 
The manufactiure of paper and the discovery of the art 
of printing and engraving made available the treasures 
and discoveries of the age to all and placed learning 
upon a democratic basis. 

The Renaissance was the emancipation of the reason in 
a race of men intolerant of control, ready to criticize canons 
of conduct, enthusiastic of antique liberty, fresUy awakened 
to the sense of beauty and anxious above all things to secure 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


288 


for themselves free scope in spheres outside the region of 
authority. Men so vigorous and independent felt the joy 
of exploration. There was no problem they feared to face, 
no formula they were not-eager to recast according to their 
new conceptions.^ 

Italy, shaking herself free from the conditions of medi- 
®val life, developed both a feeling after nationality and a 
new civilization. In Germany the desire for education 
spread with the rapidity of a prairie fire. Within a hundred 
and fifty years no less than seventeen new universities 
were founded. Throughout the fifteenth century all the 
universities were under the influence of the Church, and 
scholasticism prescribed the curriculum of studies. The 
outstanding factors that carried the Renaissance into a 
reformation of both states and Church were the deep dis- 
content with conditions of life in Europe, the social revolts 
in which peasants sought to break down serfdom, the 
rapacity of Churchmen in the exaction of tithes and 
payments for every ministration of the Church, and the 
demand for reality in religion as opposed to the formalism 
of the day. 

With this brief summary of the Renaissance in Christian 
Europe there will at once spring to our minds many 
apparent similarities with present-day movements in the 
Moslem world. Europe learned, though a new class 
consciousness, the binding influence of nationality and 
patriotic sentiment and began to advance along the path- 
way of democratic rule. In Moslems to-day the ferment 
of new thought, as we have seen, is finding expression in 
nationalism. Europe broke away from the fettering in- 
fluences of church-controlled states and the Christian 
faith acquired new strength and vitality by the wider 
liberty it had gained. Moslem countries are moving too 
in this direction. Turkey has led the way, and church 
and state have been separated. In this analogy it should, 
however, be remembered that Islam had its renaissance in 
1 Symonds, Eenaisdance in Italyt p. 18. 



284 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

Baghdad and Spain and lost its opportunity through the 
fear of new learning. Orthodoxy gained the day, and 
while Islam held its own it ceased to be a force in the 
cultural life of nations. It surrendered its quest for truth 
to the demand of an infallible book. The Moslem world, 
stripped of its intellectual leadership, drifted into the old 
reactionary ways again, while the Christian West struggled 
through all the throes of a new birth and emerged into a 
larger life and a reformation of religion which saved 
Eiurope. The last great bid of the Moslems for the con- 
quest of the West coincided with the Reformation. When 
Luther was at the Diet of Worms Islam was seeking to 
break through Vienna into Germany. While England was 
seeking to purify its Church a Moslem army was laying 
India waste. The Reformation came when Sulieman the 
Magnificent ruled a Moslem empire, extending from 
Baghdad to Hungary. Both Christianity and Islam were 
at the cross-roads. Both religions had passed through a 
renaissance which had brought out clearly in East and 
West the demands for liberty of thought and freedom of 
conscience as the basic condition of vitality and growth in 
religion. Ecclesiastical authorities in Europe tried to 
stifle the movement which insisted that men should think 
for themselves whether their thoughts were in accord with 
the dogma of the day or not. Moslem leaders in the East 
adopted the same policy. There was this difference, how- 
ever, that while liberal thought won the day in Europe it 
suffered an overwhelming disaster in the Moslem world. 

A comparison between Christianity and Islam shows 
that, while both began with remarkable vigour and both 
spread rapidly, both declined through schisms. The early 
split in Islam between the Sunnis and the Shiahs was 
no less serious to Mohammedanism than the disruption of 
the eastern and western Churches was to Christendom. 
Neither religion preserved intact the ideals of solidarity 
and unity. Again, we have seen how both came ultimately 
to the great crisis in their affairs through an insis tent. 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


286 


demand for individual independence of thought. Down 
to the Reformation in Europe we see many points in 
common between the two religions. It is a boast of 
Islam that it has no priesthood, but the religious leaders 
have often exercised as absolute a sway over the con- 
sciences and thought of Moslems as any Pope did over his 
Christian flock. Heresy was hunted down in Islam by a 
persecuting priestly class of sheikhs which has its coun- 
terpart in the Inquisition. At the cross-roads the two 
faiths adopted widely different paths. The one clung 
tenaciously to its past and the other enriched its heritage 
by a new tolerance and liberty. 

In each case it was a momentous choice ; and in studying 
these two great faiths we ask why the choice was so made, 
in the one case of reaction and intolerance and in the 
other of liberty and life. Each religion had a sacred 
book. It was and is still the standard of the faith for 
each. In a great crisis the issue depends not upon past 
triumphs nor upon a superimposed authority, but upon 
the teaching of the book and the principles upon which 
the faith in a last analysis rests. Judged by this standard 
the causes for the decline of Islam and the new expansion 
and growth of Christianity are apparent. Primitive Islam 
was based on force. Its early growth was due to military 
conquests. Its founder was not only a prophet to his 
followers but a great general and a military genius. Chris- 
tianity had for its Founder One who said, “ Love your 
enemies,” and who went to the Cross rather than use 
force in the defence of His faith. Man becomes assimi- 
lated to the character that he worships ; and the sharply 
contrasting ideals of the two faiths — a victorious com- 
mander of armies in Islam, and the suffering Prince of 
Peace — are deciding their destinies. “ He that taketh the 
sword shall perish by the sword,” said Jesus Christ, and 
Islam as an intellectual and moral power has perished 
through the example of its founder. It is true that 
Christians have failed terribly to live up to the ideal of 



286 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

their Founder, but the ideal has none the less been the 
pxirifying influence that has enabled the Church to grow 
in moral and spiritual power. 

Mohammed, by his theory of a mechanical inspiration 
for his messages and his book, was really adopting the 
Jewish system against which Christ protested. Islam was 
bom in an atmosphere which shut out the fresh breezes 
of heaven and allowed no open windows for fresh air to 
blow through the stale atmosphere of an enclosed mind 
and a defined and rigid system. Christ opposed this very 
system in the Pharisees and the rulers of the day, and His 
followers were cast out of the sjmagogue and excommuni- 
cated because of their freedom of thought. 

Christianity was therefore established upon the prin- 
ciples of liberty of thought and conscience. While it is 
true that as Christianity became organized it lost the 
breadth of outlook of its Founder and the true spirit of 
the faith, yet when the crisis came the principles of Christ 
were rediscovered and a new era began. The two faiths 
have influenced the world by the content of their messages 
rather than by their organizations and accretions. 

In tracing out the fortunes of Islam we come back 
finally to the present day and we see the Moslem world 
once more passing through a renaissance — ^this time not 
due to ancient scholarship but to a modern interpretation 
of life. In the Middle Ages Islamic revival was the work 
of a few brilliant thinkers, to-day it is a movement of the 
people. Then it was a revival of letters and learning, 
often of a purely academic nature. Now it is an awaken- 
ing of the populace. It was caliphs then who were patrons 
of art and literature, now it is the student class that is 
leading a democratic campaign towards freedom. The 
changes in Islam to-day find their parallel not so much in 
the renaissance of Baghdad as in the revival of learning 
in Europe. Can the comparison be carried a stage 
fvupther ? Will Islam, out of its political and educational 
changes, evolve a moral reformation in religion ? There 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 287 

are not wanting signs that this may be so. The awakened 
conscience on social matters in the Near East is signifi- 
cant. The desire among Moslems to repudiate slavery, 
polygamy, the harem, the veil, and the demands for an 
equality of status between men and women, points to some- 
thing deeper than the political changes that are taking 
place. The efforts at social reforms and the willingness of 
educated Moslems to engage in social service speak of a 
growing consciousness among them of deeper needs than 
self-determination. 

In these days when the Moslem mind is plastic and 
people are seeking for a new way of life, has Christianity 
a message for Islam ? 

A common argument to-day by Mohammedans is that 
Mohammed gave a practical and attainable ideal, one 
suited to the requirements of frail human nature. Exactly ! 
But such an ideal easily reached makes future progress 
impossible, and Moslems satisfied with the sanction of 
four wives have accepted the standards of polygamy as 
their ideal for womanhood. A nation’s growth depends 
upon its mothers, and in Islam, where woman is distrusted, 
hedged round by restrictive customs of the veil and the 
harem and relegated to an inferior position, the people 
have lost in moral stamina and character. Christian races 
of the West have undoubtedly failed to realize the lofty 
idealism of Christ in regard to women, and the divorce 
courts’ proceedings are used by Moslems as useful pro- 
paganda to expose the failure of Christianity. But the 
remedy does not lie in lowering the standards as Islam 
does, but in the application of Christ’s teaching to modem 
life. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount which 
enforces monogamy and forbids divorce is an ideal uni- 
versal in application, and however far off its attainment 
may seem, it ever bids the Christian forces onward in 
spiritual progress and moral growth. 

The blood feuds of Arabia have never ceased through 
the teaching of Mohammed and exist to-day exactly as 



288 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

when the Prophet found assassination a convenient method 
of ridding himself of a troublesome enemy. The lack of 
idealism in Islam has left Arabia where it was and tribal 
wars continue as before. This in all fairness should be 
contrasted with the spread of Christianity in, say, central 
Africa, where blood feuds and tribal wars were the common 
practice prior to the entry of Christian missionaries. With 
the entrance of Christianity the tribes ceased their con- 
flicts, the chiefs voluntarily abolished slavery, and pagan 
customs ceased to exist. Why ? Because the teaching 
of Christ made these things impossible. Why then did 
they not cease in Arabia ? Because it must be admitted 
that the Prophet and the Koran sanctioned them, and 
much of the evil habits of Arabia was countenanced by 
the example of the Prophet. 

In saying this let it not be forgotten that the failure of 
Christianity in the Moslem world has been due to the poor 
expression of our faith by so-called Christian nations. 
Here are some of the arguments used by Moslems of 
India against the Church : 

1. “ Christianity reconciles its gospel of salvation with 

self-aggrandizement and greed. Christian nations 
are usually the strongest and they have used their 
power to rob and exploit the non-Christian nations.” 

2. ” Christian ideals are too vague and impracticable 

to be of use. 

3. “ Christianity with its belief in force (the Crusaders), 

bloodshed and torture (the Inquisition), and its 
consigning to perdition all those who cannot think 
of the Trinity in a particular way (Athanasian 
Creed), cannot be the religion of a God of mercy 
and love.” 

4. ” Mohammed uplifted woman to a position of perfect 

equality with man. The Christian Church lowered 
her status by holding her responsible for the fell of 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


289 


man firom paradise and as the origin of all sin on 
the earth, and hence a thing to be despised.” 

5. “ The failure of Christianity as a religion is shown 
in European countries, and especially England, by 
empty churches, lack of ordination candidates, the 
prevalence of divorce, immorality of art, etc. We 
are not likely to give up Islam for a religion which 
produces such results.” ^ 

A good deal in these arguments is to be discoimted as for 
purely propaganda purposes. For example, the editors 
of The Light know perfectly well that the Koran (chap. 
2, V. 28) speaks of the fall of Adam and Eve, and that the 
subject is dealt with also in the Koran, chap. 7, v. 18-24. 
The Christian Church, however, is challenged to show 
what Christianity has to offer that a Moslem cannot find 
in Islam. The word Christian (or Nasrani, as it is in 
Arabic) has been a strong term of reproach in Moslem 
lands, amounting almost to a curse, and Moslems, as the 
quotations above show, confuse western civilization with 
Christianity. The two are not the same thing, any more 
than because most Moslem lands are illiterate and back- 
ward Islam and illiteracy are the same thing. The argu- 
ment too about the relative position of women in Moslem 
and Christian countries is disproved by facts. But the 
problem remains. Has Christianity a message for Islam 7 
And if so. How ought it to be presented 7 

History shows that the two bodies have understood one 
another best when they have frankly confessed that each 
has something to contribute to the other. Mutual respect, 
toleration and goodwill lie at the basis of a better under- 
standing. Islam will make no headway by the absurdly 
bitter attacks upon the Christian faith, in which it in- 
dulges so freely at Woking and other centres to-day. 
Christianity will gain nothing by abuse of Mohammedanism 
for its failures. In both the Omayyad and the Abbaside 
^ These argameuta are taken from TM Light, published in Lahore. 

T 



290 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

periods Christians were invited to state their case for 
Christianity at court, and the free interchange of ideas 
led to a mutual understanding. The Christian line of 
approach to Islam must be one of respect, not of supe- 
riority, It must be through an honest desire to see the 
Moslem point of view and to clear away misunderstanding 
on both sides that the approach should be made. Moslems 
have much to teach us. 

The insistence upon the unity of God is common ground. 
It was the rock upon which Israel stood, it has been the 
strength of Islam, and it is none the less the glory of the 
Christian faith. The desire for spiritual experience is 
again common to both faiths, and the Christian approach 
to Moslems should be that of brothers in co-operation in a 
quest for God, 

The world to-day is demanding reality in religion, and 
no correctness of Christian creed can take the plaee of the 
power that interprets God in practical terms of reality to 
men. Moslems have appreciated far more than they 
would admit the immense service rendered by Christian 
missions, and the self-sacrificing devotion of doctors, 
nurses and educationists has opened the way for happier 
relations between the followers of the two religions. 
Most missionaries will agree that the old method of con- 
troversy is wrong and has proved fruitless. What the 
Moslem asks is to see the life of Christ exemplified in 
His followers, the faith that worketh not by argument but 
by love, and the life that expresses a Divine compassion 
for a suffering world. The preaching of the Cross has too 
often been polemical and has thus proved only a stumbling- 
block to the Moslem. The Cross in Christian experience 
means that God shares in the sorrows and ills of the world : 
“ In all their afflictions He was afflicted,” Christianity 
must show God entering into the needs of humanity 
and suffering with men, or fail. Islam has lost immeasur- 
ably through an entire absence of Fatherhood in its con- 
ception of God. The fact that leading Moslems to-day 



ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY 


291 


are beginning to speak of God as Father shows their con- 
scious need of the revelation brought to man through 
Jesus Christ. “ God was in Christ reconciling the world 
unto Himself ” is the answer to a Moslem’s fatalistic belief 
in Divine despotism. 

The Christian faith is a life to be lived, and the reason 
why Moslems are so often repelled is because it has never 
been adequately tried by any large body of people or 
nations. We cannot attack the faults of others when 
we are so conscious of our own failures, but we can seek 
to show by love and service what Jesus Christ taught 
and what His ideals, if applied, would mean in world 
regeneration. 

In an age of publicity and the press, the two religions 
stand out in the clear light of day. History reveals 
the strength and weaknesses of each. The successes and 
failures are recorded for all to read, and above all stand 
the characters of Christ and Mohammed. 

The grand idea of Christ’s mission, as Bushnell has so 
ably put it, was “ to re-create the human race and restore 
it to God in the unity of a spiritual Kingdom.” Jesus 
alone, the simple Galilean carpenter, never having seen 
a map of the world in His whole life nor heard the name 
of half the great nations of it, undertakes a scheme far 
vaster and more difficult than that of Alexander, Csesar, 
or Mohammed. He expounds His plan with a comage 
and confidence in the world’s future far transcending any 
other human example. His method is different from any 
previously accepted standard. He begins with the poor, 
the outcast, and the sinful and brings them into sym- 
pathetic touch with the all-embracing love of God. He 
lives for those who can offer no hope of reward or return, 
and His life is one of selfless service for the good of 
humanity. He was of no school or party, though he per- 
meated all by His influence. His teaching is not so much 
a doctrine as a biography, a personal power, a love which 
walked the earth and expressed itself in fellowship with 



292 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

men. The more the Man Christ Jesus is understood the 
clearer it becomes that here, and here only, is the centre 
of world unity in which all nations can combine. Here is 
the one ideal for the whole human race. 

Christianity has often failed, Christians have frequently 
misrepresented the Prince of Peace, the Church has at 
its best been a poor representative of its Master ; and yet 
in spite of all, and we do not wish to minimize the weak- 
nesses of Christian life and character, the fact remains 
that Christ has been the inspiration of all that is best and 
noblest in life. Hospitals and philanthropic work to-day 
owe their conception to the ideals of the Son of Man. 
The efforts for the uplift of man, such as the abolition of 
slavery and the large measure of brotherhood attained in 
the world, are due to Him. Every minute of every hour 
of the day records some act of kindness, some deed of love, 
some service that is unselfish that would never have been 
done had not Christ come to show us the meaning of life. 
When therefore the Moslem world challenges us to show 
what Christianity has to offer we point with all confidence 
to Christ, the Hope of the world — ^to Him who said, with 
a wealth of sympathetic understanding hitherto unknown : 
“ Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest.” 



APPENDIX 

(See page 19) 

As these statements about Mohammed’s character have 
been challenged by modern Moslem writers in England, a 
few instances are appended with reference to authorities. 

1. ’Asm A, daughter of Marwan of the Banu Aus tribe. 
’Asma was a poetess who after the battle of Badr wrote 
some verses to warn her people of the folly of trusting 
this upstart (Mohammed) who had taken the sword 
against his own people and had slain many of their chiefs. 
She was brutally murdered by ’Umair of the same tribe, 
and the next morning at prayers Mohammed asked him 
whether he had accomplished the deed. ’Umair stated 
that he had and that he was rather afraid of the con- 
sequences. Mohammed set his mind at ease by saying 
that a couple of goats would not knock their heads together 
over it, and calling together the people in the mosque he 
said, “If ye desire to see a man that hath assisted the 
Lord and His prophet look ye here,” pointing to ’Umair. 

(See Muir’s Life of Mohammed^ chap, xiii., p. 282, and 
for Moslem sources, Ibn Sa^d //, 1-18; Ibn Hisham 
(edition Wiistenfeld), pp, 995-996; Wellhausen’s fVakidi, 
pp. 90-91.) 

2. The Assassination of Abu ’Afak. — “ Many weeks 
did not elapse before another murder was committed by 
express authority of Mohammed. The victim was an 
aged Jewish proselyte, Abu ’Afak, whose offence was 
similar to that of ’Asma, He, too, had composed some 
stinging verses which annoyed the Musulmans. * Who 
will rid me of this pestilent fellow ? ’ said Mohammed to 

298 



294 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

those about him, and not long after a [Moslem] convert 
from the same tribe, falling upon the aged man as he 
slept in the courtyard outside Us house, despatched him 
with his sword.” 

(Sir William Muir in his Life of Mohammed, p. 288. 
This story is confirmed by Moslem authorities, Ibn Sa'd II, 
i. 19; Ibn Hisham, 994-998, and Wellhausen’s Wakidi, 
pp. 91-92.) 

8. Assassination of Ka’b, son of Ashraf (a.d. 624). — 
Mohammed prayed aloud, “ O Lord, deliver me from the 
son of Ashraf in whatever way it seemeth good unto Thee 
because of his open sedition and his verses.” Mohammed, 
son of Maslama, replied, “ I will slay him,*^’ and Mohammed 
signified his approval. A gang of assassins was formed 
and Mohammed said, “Go, the blessing of God be with 
you, and assistance from on high.” When the assassins 
returned, Mohammed met them at the gate of the mosque, 
saying, “ Welcome, for your countenances beam of victory.” 
“ And thine also, O Prophet,” they exclaimed, as they 
cast the ghastly head of their victim at his feet. Then 
Mohammed praised God for what had been done. 

(See Muir’s Life of Mohammed, chap, xiii., pp. 289-240, 
and for Moslem sources, Tabari I, 1868 ; Ibn Hisham, 
648 ; Wellhausen’s Wakidi, p. 95 ; Ibn Sa'd II, 1-21.) 

4. Murder of Ibn Sunaina. — ^Mushaisa the murderer, 
when reproved by his brother, replied, “ By the Lord, if 
he that commanded me to kill him had commanded me 
to kill thee also, I would have done it.” “ What,” Hu- 
waisa cried, “ wouldst thou have slain thine own brother 
at Mohammed’s bidding?” “Even so,” answered the 
fanatic. 

(See Muir’s Life of Mohammed, chap, xiii., pp. 241-242, 
and for Moslem sources, Tabari I, 1872; Ibn Hisham, 
658 ; Wellhausen’s Wakidi, p. 97.) 



APPENDIX 


295 


5. Assassination of Abu’l-Hukaik (called also Abu 
Rafi). — ^Mohammed sent a chosen party of five, giving 
them a command to make away with Abu’l-Hukaik. 
On their retium they recounted to him all that had 
happened, and as each one claimed the honour of the 
deed, Mohammed examined their weapons, and from the 
marks on the sword of Abdullah ibn Unais, assigned to 
him the merit of the fatal blow. 

(See Muir’s Life of Mohammed, chap, xviii., p. 887, 
and for Moslem sources, Ihn Su'd II, i. 66 ; Tabari I, 
1875 ; Wellhausen’s Wakidi, 170 ; Ibn Hisham, p. 861.) 

6. Rape of the Women of the Banu Mustalik at the 
Wells of Muraisi’. 

{Ecce Homo Arabicus, p. 8. Arabic sources : Halabi, ii. 
296 ; L. Caetani, Annali delV Islam, i. 601 ; Wakidi, 
179 ; all the Tradition Books.) 

7. Massacre of Banu Kuraiza. — The Jewish Army 
having been brought to the last stage of starvation offered 
to surrender on condition that their fate should be decided 
by their allies the Banu Aus. These were urgent to the 
Prophet that their ancient allies should be spared. “ Are 
ye then content,” replied Mohammed, “ that they be 
judged by one of yourselves ? ” They answered “ Yes,” 
and Mohammed forthwith nominated Sa’d ibn Mu’adh 
to be the judge. “ Proceed with thy judgment,” said the 
Prophet. Sa’d turned himself to his people, who were 
still urging mercy upon him, and said, “ Will ye, then, 
bind yourselves by the covenant of God, that whatsoever 
I shall decide ye will accept ? ” There was a murmur of 
assent. “ Then,” proceeded Sa’d, “ my judgment is that 
the men shall be put to death, the women and children 
sold into slavery, and the spoil divided among the army.” 
Many a heart quailed, besides the hearts of the wretched 
prisoners, at this bloody decree. But all questionings were 
forthwith stopped by Mohammed, who sternly adopted 



296 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


the verdict as his own, declaring it to be the solemn 
judgment of the Almighty. “ Truly,” he said, “ the 
judgment of Sa’d is the judgment of God announced on 
high from beyond the seventh Heaven.” This judgment 
was carried out to the full, Mohammed himself being a 
spectator. 

(Muir’s Life of Mohammed, chap, xvii,, pp. 805-809, 
and for Moslem sources, Ibn Hisham, pp. 684-690 ; Tabari 
I, 1485 ; Ibn Sa'd II, i. 58 ; Wellhausen’s WaMdi, 210 ; 
Mumad Hanbal V, i. 55, iii. 207 ; Sira on the mtirgin of 
Halabi, ii. 150.) 



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Life of Mohammed. Canon E. Sell (Christian Literature Society for 
India, 2/6). 

Mohammed and Mohammedanism. S. W. Koelle. (O.P.) 

Islam and the Psychology of the Musulman. Andr^ Servier. (O.P,) 

Mohammed in Islam. I. Goldziher (C.L.S.I., lOd,). 

Arabia, the Cradle of Islam. S. M. Zwemer. (O.P.) 

The Heart of the Middle East. R. Cooke (Thornton Butterworth, 
18/-). 

Ihn Sa~oud of Arabia. Ameen Rihani (Constable, 21/-). 

II. ISLAM— THE KORAN 

The Koran translated into English with Notes. G. Sale (Warne, 10/6, 
5/- and 2/6). 

New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the Koran. 
H. Hirchfield. (O.P.) 

The Origin of Islam in Us Christian Environment. Richard Bell 
(Macmillan, 10/6). 

Arabic Thought and its Place in History. De Lacy O’Leary (K^gan 
Paul, 10/6). 

The Sources of Idaim. Sir William Muir (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 
1901). 


297 



298 THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 

The Historical Development of the Koran. Canon E. Sell (C.L.S.I., 

8 /-). 

The Koran. Sir William Muir (S.P.C.K., 2/6). 

III. fflSTORY OF ISLAM 

AnruUs of the Early Caliphate. Sir William Muir. (O.P.) 

The CaliphaiCy its Rise^ Decline and Fall. Sir William Muir (John 
Grant, Edinburgh, 15/-). 

The Caliphate. T. W. Arnold (Oxford University Press, 7/6). 

The Traditions of Islam. Alfred Guillaume (Oxford University 
Press, 10/6). 

Spanish Islam. Reinhart Dozy and F. Griffin Stokes. (O.P.) 

The Ummayad and the Abbasid Khalifates. Canon £. Sell (C.L.S.I., 
lOd.). 

The Moslem Conquests in Spain. Canon E. Sell (C.L.S.I., 1/-). 

Islam and the Dimne Comedy. Miguel Asin (John Murray, 12/-). 

The Law of Apostasy in Islam. S. M. Zwemer (Marshall, 6/-). 

The Mameluke or Slave Dynasty of Egypt. Sir William Muir. (O.P.) 

Mohammedan History. Handbook prepared imder the direction of 
the Historical Section of the Foreign Office. No. 57. 

Palestine under the Moslems. G. le Strange. (O.P.) 

IV. MOSLEM THEOLOGY 

Muslim Theology^ Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory. D. B. 
Macdonald(Routledge, 8/6). 

Mohammedanism. C. Snouck Hurgronje. (O.P.) 

The Early Development of Mohammedanism (Hibbert Lecture). 
D. S. Margoliouth (Constable, 6/-). 

V. MYSTICISM IN ISLAM 

Mystics and Saints of Islam. Claud Field. (O.P.) 

Aspects of Islam. D. B. Macdonald. (O.P.) 

The Mystics of Islam. R. A. Nicholson (Harcourt, Brace &, Co., New 
York). 

The Moslem Doctrine of God. S. M. Zwemer (Fleming H. Revell, 
New York). 

The Idea of Personality in Sufiism. R. A. Nicholson (Cambridge 
University Press, 5/-). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 


299 


The Moslem Seeker after God. S. M. Zwemer (Oliphants, 10/6). 

The Religions Attitude and the Life in Islam. D. B. Macdonald 
(Chicago Press, 7/-). 

Worship in Islam. E. C. C^verley (C.L.S.I., 4/~). 

Abbas Effendi, his Life and Teaching. M. H. Phelps. (O.P.) 

Saints of Islam. Husain R. Sayani (Luzac, 3/-). 

VI. TURKEY 

Turkey, A. J. Toynbee and K. P. Kirkwood (Modern World Series, 
vol. vi.) (Ernest Benn, 15/-). 

Modem Turkey. Eliot G. Mears (Macmillan, 25/-). 

Turkey in Travail. H. Armstrong (Lane, 8/6). 

The Turkish Empire. Lord Eversley and Sir Valentine Chirol 
(Ernest Benn, 21/-). 

Turkey. Stanley Lane Pool (Story of the Nations Series) (T. Fisher 
Unwin, 7/6). 

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey. A. J. Toynbee (Hough- 
ton Mifflin Co., Boston. Obtainable from A. F. Bird). 

Memoirs of Halida Edib. (New York : Century Co.) 

The Ottoman Turks. Canon E, Sell (C.L.S.I., 1/-). 

The Sout of a Turk. V. de Bunsen (O.P.). 

VII. AFRICA AND ISLAM 

France, Spain and the Rif. W. B. Harris (E. Arnold & Co., 21/-). 

The Golden Stool, E. W. Smith (Revised edition. Edinburgh House 
Press, 2/6). 

The New Africa. Donald Fraser (Edinburgh House Press, 2/-), 

A Histoi^ of the Arabs in the Sudan. H. A. Macmichael (Cambridge 
University Press, 2 vols., 90/-), 

The Story of the Church of Egypt. (O.P.) 

The Egyptian Church. Archdeacon Dowling (Cope & Fenwick, 
1/7). 

Islam and Africa. G. Dale (S.P.C.K., 2/6). 

Egypt under the Egyptians. Murray Harris. (O.P.) 

Influences of Animism on Islam. S. M. Zwemer (S.P.C.K., 10/-). 

The Land of the Vanished Church. J. J. Cooksey (World Dominion 
Press, 2/-). 



800 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


The ChrUtian Mission in Africa. E. W. Smith. (Obtainable from 
Edinburgh House Press, 8/6.) 

Trade, Politico and Chriaiianity in Africa and the East. A. J. Mac- 
donald (Longmans, 6/-). 


VIII. RENAISSANCE IN THE MOSLEM WORLD 

Moslem World of To-day. Edited by J. R. Mott (Hodder & 
Stoughton, 8/6). 

The Call from the Moslem World. (Press and Publications Board, 
Church Assembly, 2/6 and 1/-.) 

The Moslem World. Edited by S. M. Zwemer. A Quarterly Maga- 
zine. (Obtainable from l^sionary Literature Supply, Church 
House, Westminster, 2/-.) 

Spiritual and Political Revolutions in Islam. Felix Valyi (Kegan 
Paul, 7/6), 

Ahmadiyyat, or the True Islam. Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din 
Mahmud Ahmad. (Obtcunable from The Mosque, Melrose 
Road, Southfield.) 

Christian Literature in Moslem Lands. (Obtainable from Edinburgh 
House Press, 7/6.) 

Islam and the Psychology of the Musulman. Andr6 Sender. (O.P.) 

The Ideal Prophet. Khwaja Kemal-ud-Din (“ Islamic Review 
Office, The Mosque, Woking), 

Religions of the Empire. Edit|ld by W. L. Hare (Duckworth, 

10 / 6 ). 

Vital Forces of Christianity and Islam. (Six Articles, with Summary 
by D. B. Macdonald) (Oxford University Press, 8/6). 

Modem Movements among Moslems. S. G. Wilson. (O.P.) 

The Disintegration of Islam, S. M. Zwemer. (Oliphants, 6/-.) 



INDEX 


Abbas Efpbndi, 120 
Abbaside dynasty, 71-3, 86 ei 
94-6 

Abd-ebAziz, 194 
Abdel-Bazik, Sheikb Ali, 6, 248 
Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey, 130-3, 
199 

Abdullah Ibn Yassin, 170 
Abu Bekr, 60, 62-3, 66, 101-2 
(qzioted), 66 
Abyssinia, 269-70 
Afghanistan, 7 
Amoa< — 

^ee also under names of countries) 
Berber conversions, 169-70 
Christian population, 176 
conquests in North, 64, 168-70 
Islam in {see chap, be) 

Islam in South, 174-6 
Moslem education, 178-9 
Moslem population, 176, 180-1 
reasons for spread of Islam, 177-80, 
181-2 

Sphinx, 186-7 

Aghar Khan, His Highness the, 166 
Ahmad, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam, 222-5 
{quoUd), 223 
Ahmadiyyat sect, 222-5 

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 
founder, 222-^ 

Islamic Review, 226 
Review of Religions, 225-6 
Akbar, 67, 216 
Akhwan, The, 202-3 
AH, 66, 66, 67, 101-2 
Ali, King of Hedjaz, 206 
Al-GhazaH, 116-17, 260 
^quoted), 116-16 
Aligarh University, 219 
A1 ManBOur, 86 
A1 Moravides, 170-1 
Ameer Ali, Bight Honourable, 166 
America, Moslems in, 233-4 
Amr, 58-60, 66, 166 
Angora — 

seat of Turkish republic, 150 
Turkish government set up in, 143-6 


Arabia (see chap, x), 8, 10, 73-6, 79-81 
Arab swarming periods, 54-6 
effect of desert on Arab character, 
14-16 

Mohammed and, 37-8 
“ time of ignorance,” 34-6 
Arabic — 

as lingua franca of Moslems, 82-3 
BUj^rseded by Turkish in Turkey, 

Armenia, 133-4, 268 
Arnold, Edwin (quoted), 38 
Avempace, 94 
Averrhoes, 93-4 
Avicenna, 94 
Ayesha, 17, 28, 168, 166 
(quoted), 276-6 

Azhar University, 6, 206-7, 239, 240 

I Babists, doctrine of, 117-18 
Baghdad, 72-3 
Bear, Battle of, 26, 41 
Beha’ullah, 118-21 
(quoted), 119 

Berbers, conversion of, 169-70 
Black Stone of Mecca, 36 
Blunt, Wilfrid (quoted), 198-9 
Bolshevism and Islam, 251 
Br4vi4, M. J. (qiwted), 186 
Byzantine Empire — 

Islam and, 62-3, 66, 64, 78, 84, 266 
Tiurkey and, 124, 126-6 

Cadesiya, 61 

Cairo, westemism in, 238-40 
Caliphate, 1, 72, 73, 206-7, 210 
abolition by Turkey, 161-4 
Indian defence of, 131, 166-7 
protests against aboHtion, 166-7 
Bunnis and Shiahs, 101-2 
transferred to Turkish Sultan, 126 
Camel, Battle of the, 66 
Carlyle, Thomas (quoted), 30-1 
1 China, Islam in, 131, 234r4S 
Christianity — 

1 and Islam (see chap, xiii), 101, 175- 
I 176, 228-9, 233-4 


801 



802 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Christianity — continued 
Armenian massacres, 133-4 
in Egypt, 166 
in North Africa, 168-9 
in Nubia, 166-8 
Mohammed and, 36-7, 42-4 
persecution of Christian minorities, 
140-2, 163 
Constantinople — 
captured % Tmrks, 126 
Cathedral of Santa Sophia, 263 
Crawford, Dr {quoted)^ 277 
Cromer, Lord {quoted)^ 241 
Crusades, 91, 267-8 
Cyprus, capture by Moslems, 66 

Damascus — 

captured by Moslems, 66-7 
Church of St John the Baptist, 264 
headquarters of Omayyad dynasty, 
66 . 86-6 

railway to Medina, 199 
Dervish orders, 114-16, 131, 160, 
236-6 

Divine Comedy, Islamic influence on 
Dante’s, 89-90 
Druses, 5 

Egypt, 66, 238-44, 268-9 
Arabic-speakii^, 82 
conquered by Turkey, 126 
invasion by Amr, 68-9, 166 
nationalism, 6 

Europe, Moslem invasion of, 67-71 

Fbisul, King, 6, 206, 208 
Fez, abolition of, 3-4, 161 
Fo^o, Othman dan, 124, 176-7, 186, 
197 

Fudhayl Ben Aziz, 113-14 
Fulani tribe, 172-3 

Ghobi, Mohammed, 213-14 
Qorrini, Commander G. {quoted), 141 

Hanivfa, Mb {quoted), 231 
Haphsa, 80, 166 
Haroun al-Raschid, 72 
Harrison Dr {quoted), 16, 201 
Hasan Basri, 112-13 
Hassan, 66 
Hausa tribe, 172, 173 
Headley, Lord {quoied), 231-2 
Heaven, 39 

Mohammed’s nocturnal journey to, 
33-4, 89-90 

HeU, Mohammed’s belief in, 39 


Heraclius, 26, 66 
Hindu-Moslem Alliance, 226 
Holy war {see Jihad) 

Hussein, 66, 67 
Hussein, Dr Taha, 243-4 
Hussein, Mrs R. S. {quoted), 29 
Hussein, Sherif of Mecca, 203-4, 208 

Ibn Saoud, 6, 10, 200 et seq. 

Congress of Moslems in Mecca, 
207-10 
India, 6-7 

Ahmadiwat sect, 222-6 
Aligarh University, 219 
Hindu influence on Islam in, 218-19 
Hindu-Moslem Alliance, 226 
Hindu-Moslem communal strife, 
226-8 

Islam in {see chap, xi) 

Moplah rising, 227 
Moslem education, 219 
Moslem Missionary Societies, 220-2 
Moslem population, 217 
objects of present-day Moslem pro- 
paganda, 220-2 
Wahhabi influence, 215-16 
Indian Review, 227-8 
Indian Social Reformer, 236 
Iraq, 6 
Islam — 

Arab {see chap, x) 
belief in angels, 47-8 
beliefs {see chap, xiii), 44-9 
Bolshevism and, 261 
Caliphate {see under 0) 

Christianity and {see under C) 
conception of God, 39, 40-1, 46-7, 
97-100 
creed, 46 

derivation of word, 26, 44 
divine origin, 34 
doctrines of heaven and hell, 39 
effect of Arab beliefs, 36 
effect of desert, 16, 16 
fatalism, 46-7 
in Turkey {see chap, viii) 
intercession of saints, 193 
Jewish effect on, 36, 42-3 
Jihad, 24-6, 26, 49-60, 136-7, 197, 
214, 231 

Koran {see under K) 

Mohammed {see under M) 

Mysticism {see under M) 

Pan-Islam, 131-3 
polygamy, 27-9, 84, 229 
prayer, 11-12, 40, 98-100, 238-9 
reasons for early expansion, 77-9 



INDEX 


808 


Islam — continued 

reasons for spread in Africa, 177-80, 
181-2 

religions duties, 40-50 
tribal basis, 16 

Wahhabi tenets, 191-6, 202-3 
women in, 28-9, 263-6 
Islam and the Principles of Govern- 
merU, 248 

Islamic Review, 226 
(quoted), 230 


Jews, Islam and, 24, 36, 42-3 
Jihad, 24-6, 26, 49-60, 136-7, 197, 214, 
231 


Kaaba, 36, 83-4, 207 

Kasim, Mohammed Ibn, 213 

Kemal, Mustapha, 3, 4, 140-4, 148, 
160, 161 et seq. 

first president of Turkish republic, 
149 

Khalid, 60, 61 

Koran, 19, 21-2, 26, 42, 44, 48-9, 79- 
81, 86-7, 279-81 
divine origin, 22, 23, 34, 281 
quotations from, 14, 18, 20, 23, 
24-6, 26, 33, 42-3, 46, 47, 89, 98, 
137, 166, 289 

Kurdistan, revolt against Turkey, 
161-2 


Lahore, Ahmadiyyat sect at, 226 
Lane-Poole, Stanley (quoted), 139 
Lausanne Conference, 144-6, 163 
** Law of Fundamental Organiza- 
tion,” 144 
Light of Islam, 234 

Literature in the Moslem World, 246-7 
newspapers, 247 
Lull, Raymond, 91-2 


Mahdi, doctrine of the, 102-3, 104, 
223 

Mahmud of Ghazni, 213, 216 
Mamun, 86-7 

Mandingo tribe, 171-2, 173 
Mansour Hallaj, 114 
Martel, Charles, 68-70 
Mecca, 36-6 
Black Stone, 35 
Kaaba, 36 

Mirza Ali Mohammed, 117-18 
Mirza Yahya, 118 
Mo^h Rising, 227 


Mohammed (see chap, ii and Appen- 
dix), 216 

and Bible history, 23, 36, 40, 41-2, 43 
and Christianity, 36-7, 42-4, 80-1 
and Heraclius, 26 

and holy war (jihad), 24-6, 26, 49- 
60, 137 

and Jews, 24, 36, 42-3 
^ and prayer, 40 
appearance, 13 
Battle of Bedr, 25, 41 
belief in Judgment Day, 39, 48-9 
character, 13-14, 18-19, 31-2, 275-7 
comparison with Jesus Christ, 26-7, 
107, 108, 277, 286-6, 287 
conception of God, 16-16, 39, 40-1, 
46-7, 98, 106 
death, 30 

denunciation of idolatry, 22-3 
flight to Medina, 13 
miracles, 22 

nocturnal journey to heaven, 33-4, 
89-90 
prayer, 17 

wives, 18, 27-9, 168, 166, 276-6 
Muavia, 66, 66 

Muir, Sir William (quoted), 166, 241 
Mysticism (see chap, vi), 260 
Christian and Islamic, 106-9 
Dervish orders, 114-16, 260 
Shiah sect, 102-4 
Sufiism, 104-7, 109-12 

Nubia — 

Islamic conquests in, 69-60, 166-8 

Omab, 56, 67-8, 62 
Omar Khayyam (quoted), 260 
Omayyad dynasty, 66-7, 71-2, 86 
Othman, 64?^ 

Palestine, 6, 53, 67-8 
Jerusalem captured by Omar, 67-8 
Palgrave, W. G. (quoted), 97 
Pan-Islam, 131-3 
Persia, 6 

Babists (see under B) 
conquest by Moslems, 60-2 
Shiahs (see under S) 

Sufiism (see under 8) 

Sunnis (see under 8) 

Pilgrim railway, 199, 209-10 
Population — 

Moslems and Christians in Africa, 
176, 180 

Moslems in India, 217 
Putney, Ahmadiyyat sect at, 226 



804 


THE EXPANSION OF ISLAM 


Qaduk, headquarters of Ahmadiyyat 
sect, 226 

Babuh, 113 
Review of BeligionSf 225 
{quoted), 225>6 
Biiat Enendi (quoted), 160-1 

Said, Shbikh (quoted), 162 
Saoud, Ibn (see under /) 

Sayed Ahmad Khan, 219 
Sayed Ahmed, 197, 215-6 
Sayed Jamal-^-Di^ 131-2 
Seijuk Mn Yakak, 95 
Sennousi, 174, 185, 197 
Shafi, Sir Mohammed (quoted), 227-8 
Shiahs, 102-3, 117-18 
Sidi Mohammed Ibn Ali, 174 
Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah (quoted), 209 
interview with Ibn S^ud, 208 
Slave-trade — 

Christian slaves in Turkey, 141-2 
foundation of African, 59-60 
Sobieski, John, King of Poland, 128 
(quoted), 128 

Spain, Moslems in, 68-71 
Spender, J. A. (quoted), 3-4 
Sphinx, 186-7 
Sufiism, 104-7 
training of a Sufi, 109-12 
Sunnis, 102 
Syria, 5, 53 

Damascus captured by Omar, 66-7 
Druses. 5 

Seat of Omayyad dynasty, 66, 85-6 

Timbuotoo, 173, 174 
Traditions of Islam, 10-17 
Turkey (see chaps, vii and viii), 1, 
2—4 

Abdul Hamid, Sultan, 130-3, 199 
abolition of fez, 3-4 
Abolition of sultanate, 148 
and Armenia, 133-4 
and Great War, 136-9 
Constantinople captured, 126 
declaration cd republic, 149-40 
defeat at Vienna, 127-8 
defeated by Russia, 128 
empire losses in 19th century, 128-9 


Turkey— eonftnited 
expansion, 124-5 
foundation, 123-4 
government set up at Angora, 143-5 
Lausanne Conference and, 144-5, 
163 

**Law of Fundamental Organiza- 
tion,” 144 
losses in war, 138-9 
Mustapha Kemal Pasha (see under 
K) 

nationalism, 132-6, 139 et eeq, 
Othman, 124 

persecutions of Christian mincmties, 
140-2, 163 

reforms under republic, 167-40 
Sultan deposed, 144 
Turkish language supersedes Arabic, 
148-9 

women, 167-9 
Young Turk party, 132-6 

Valyi, Felix (quoted), 256 
Vienna, defeat of Tur^ at, 127-8 

Wahhab, MoHAHifXD Ibb Abd-el-, 
191-3 

Wahhabis, 192-8, 199 ei eeq. 

Akhwan, The, 202 
and Great War, 203-4 
and Turkey, 195-6 
Ibn Saoud, 200 et eeq. 
in India, 215-16 
War — 

Turkey in the Great, 136-9 
Wahhabis and, 203-4 
Wells, H. G. (quoted), 26-7, 94 
Wilson, President, 252 
Woking, Ahmadiyrat sect at, 225 
World Congress of Moslems in Cairo, 
206-7 

Yabmuk, Battle of, 53 
Yemama, Battle of, 79 
Young Turks, 132 et eeq. 

Yousif, Sheikh, 175 

Zbid Ibn Thabit, 79-80 
Zikr, 110, 276 
Zun Nun, 114 








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